2013 Peking University: Mr. Fredrick Chien (钱复)
(Mr. Fredrick Chien)
Fredrick Chien, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of China (Taiwan), is a retired lifelong diplomat. Throughout his distinguished career, he often served as the highest-ranking delegate representing Taiwan, and has consistently been a strong proponent for closer ties with China. President Ma Ying-jeou visited Chien shortly after his election and was advised that, “Taiwan’s diplomatic success depends on how it improves its relations with China.” Known as one of the “four princes” (四大公子) of Taiwanese politics during the 1980s, he has also served as Taiwan’s top diplomat, representative to the US, head of the Government Information Office, chairman of the Council for Economic Planning and Development, speaker of the National Assembly, and president of the Control Yuan.
Early in his career, Chien worked closely with Chiang Kai-shek as an interpreter, translator, and advisor. For his services, he achieved national recognition as one of Taiwan’s top young achievers. Following the United States’ establishment of official diplomatic relations with Mainland China in 1979, Chien helped the Taiwanese government promote its foreign relations and maintain its influence in Washington, DC. From 1983-1988, he served as Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to the US as the Representative of the Coordination Council for North American Affairs. During this time, he helped facilitate high-level talks between Taiwan, the United States, and other countries. As an ambassador in everything but name, he kept an eye on what was then the biggest contingent of foreign students in the United States (25,000). He supervised 35 employees who annually purchased about $700 million worth of American military hardware, and helped coordinate joint scientific and technical projects.
From 1990-1996, Fredrick Chien served as Taiwan’s Foreign Minister. He presided over Taiwan’s foreign relations during a time of contention between Taiwan and China. During this period he spearheaded the unsuccessful reentry effort of Taiwan into the United Nations and helped secure more than $6 billion in F-16A/B aircraft. Through his leadership US-ROC relations improved during both President Bush’s and Clinton’s administrations. In 1999, Chien assumed the role of President of the Control Yuan, the highest watchdog organization of Taiwan, exercising the powers of impeachment, censure, and audit. In this capacity he continued to contribute to Taiwan’s foreign affairs. Most notably, he served as president Chen Shui-bian’s special envoy to the United States to deliver Taiwan’s condolences, presenting a check for $1 million on behalf of the people of Taiwan as a gift to the US after the September 11th terrorist attacks. He also represented Taiwan at the funeral of former US president Ronald Reagan.
During his distinguished public service career of over 40 years, Fredrick Chien worked nonstop as a representative of the Taiwanese people. An important figure in the history of US-ROC relations, he has maintained close and extensive contact with members of the US Congress and helped Taiwan retain influence long after it lost official diplomatic recognition. After his retirement from public service in 2005, Chien has remained a key player in Taiwan’s affairs of state. He currently serves as chairman of the Cathay Charity Foundation and chief advisor for Taiwan’s Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, in which role he has developed noteworthy relations with China’s top leaders, leading efforts in the signing of the Economic Cooperation framework Agreement (ECFA) between the governments of Mainland China and Taiwan. ECFA has been touted by China’s BOAO Forum as the “most significant agreement since the two sides split after the Chinese civil war.”
Fredrick Chien graduated from National Taiwan University with a B.A. in political science, and from Yale University with a M.A. and Ph.D in international relations. He has published several books and articles, including two volumes of his memoirs.
The Abrogation of China’s Unequal Treaties and International Law
This lecture discusses the topic of “The Abrogation of China’s Unequal Treaties and International Law” with a detailed demonstration of the origin and development of China’s unequal treaties, China’s persistent effort to abrogate them and the role international law played in the process. The history of China’s unequal treaties started from the Treaty of Nanjing resulting from the failure of the war of opium. The Treaty of Nanjing and the following series of unequal treaties provided numerous unilateral privileges to many foreign powers. Those special privileges including foreign settlements, consular jurisdiction, unilateral most favored nation treatment, foreign control of Chinese maritime customs and spheres of influence seriously damaged the sovereignty of China and reduced China into the status of a sub-colony. The abrogation of unequal treaties had always been the attention of Chinese intellectuals and they never stopped devoting themselves to such efforts. In the Paris Peace Conference Wellington V. K. Koo demanded that Germany’s leased territories and rights in Shandong should be restored to China. He also outlined seven aspirations in his policy statement to the Peace Conference. Despite the great disappointing outcome of the Peace Conference to Chinese people, Chinese government managed to abrogate most of its unequal treaties by concluding new treaties with foreign countries. And the only unsettled issue of Hong Kong, Kowloon and Macao became resolved with the official return of Hong Kong and Macao to China in 1997 and 1999. Thus the process of the abrogation of unequal treaties was finally completed. The long way of abrogating China’s unequal treaties includes the strenuous efforts by a number of forerunners. Their contributions to China should be forever remembered by us all.