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Top Taiwanese Official, a U.Va. Alum, To Speak Wednesday in Rotunda

July 8, 2011 — Philip Y.M. Yang, Taiwan's official international spokesman, who earned his doctorate from the University of Virginia's Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, will speak Wednesday at 11 a.m. in the Lower West Oval Room of the U.Va. Rotunda. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Yang became the minister of the Government Information Office of the Republic of China two months ago. He previously was a political science professor at National Taiwan University, where he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in international relations and political science. His expertise is in Taiwan and Asia-Pacific security, relations between Taiwan and mainland China, and international law.

A former senior adviser to Taiwan's National Security Council from 2008 to 2010, Yang was appointed this year as the country's overseas spokesman by Premier Wu Den-yih. He also serves as the domestic spokesman for the Taiwanese cabinet.

Yang earned his Ph.D. in foreign affairs from U.Va. in 1996, with a focus on international law and international organizations. His dissertation is titled "Sovereignty, Recognition, and International Law: The Case of Taiwan."

"Dr. Yang is one of the most prominent of a number of distinguished Taiwan graduates from the foreign affairs program at U.Va., and we are delighted to welcome him back," said Brantly Womack, Cumming Memorial Professor of Foreign Affairs in U.Va.'s Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics.

Yang's talk, "The 'Taiwan Foremost' Strategy," will focus on East Asia as one of the most dynamic regions in the world. He plans to emphasize that Taiwan, with its competitive economy, high-quality human resources and improving relationship with its neighbor across the Taiwan Strait – mainland China – has a pivotal role in regional stability and development.

According to Yang, Taiwan is actively seeking to preserve its advantages within the region by institutionalizing cross-strait relations, taking a pragmatic stance toward diplomatic objectives, contributing to the international community and consolidating domestic stability. In his view, these policies are working and have already received international recognition.

Among his honors is a Sumitomo Foundation Fellowship, with which he explored relations between Japan and Taiwan. Yang was the first Taiwanese to obtain the fellowship, which was established by the Sumitomo Corp. of Japan. He also is a former scholar in the Fulbright Program of the U.S. State Department, which permits international students to do research in the United States.

Yang is the founder and administrator of the Taiwan Security Research website, which was reviewed favorably by the journal Foreign Affairs. He has published numerous articles in English, Japanese and Chinese on Asia-Pacific security and similar concerns.

As he became his country' spokesman, Yang was quoted as saying that his office would continue to emphasize "the overseas promotion of Taiwan and its cultural and creative diversity, raising Taiwan's international profile." He also hopes for "better communication between the public and the government, by clarifying our policies to the man in the street."

— by Carl Briggs

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