IU Maurer graduate has pivotal role in the history of Chinese-Taiwanese relations

IU Maurer School of Law alumnus Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, left, shakes hands with Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office

IU Maurer School of Law alumnus Wang Yu-chi, head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, left, shakes hands with Zhang Zhijun, head of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (APF)

On Feb. 11, an Indiana University alumnus walked across a stage in Nanjing, China, and made history.

Photographers captured the moment when Wang Yu-Chi, head of Taiwan’s (R.O.C.) Mainland Affairs Council, met Zhang Zhijun, an official representative of the People’s Republic of China.

Wang, known to friends at IU Bloomington and the Maurer School of Law as “Tony,” clearly extended his hand with an enthused openness, much like when you see two friends meeting each other in the Hoosier state.

The occasion, at the Purple Palace hotel in the former capital of Chiang Kai-shek’s Republic of China, marked the first official talks between China and Taiwan since the end of China’s civil war in 1949. China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory that must be reunited.

“Before today’s meeting, it was hard to imagine that cross-strait relations could get to this point,” Wang told reporters.

As reported by The New York Times, the meeting wasn’t expected to produce many significant results, but it was a symbolic development in the easing of the two sides’ longtime rivalry. Wang continued his visit in China with visits to Nanjing University, Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum and Shanghai.

Wang was the first person to complete the Maurer School’s Doctor of Juridical Science program, which is designed for international law graduates who already hold a master’s degree in law and have demonstrated exceptional analytical and research abilities.

Wang Yu-chi

Wang Yu-chi

Fred Aman, the Roscoe C. O’Byrne Professor of Law and dean of the school from 1991 to 2002, remembers Wang as someone who was interested in many things beyond the law, including learning how to fly. Wang took lessons and even flew a plane to Chicago. “He wrote a great thesis and did very well in all of his classes,” Aman recalled about his student.

Lesley Davis, assistant dean for international programs at the Maurer School, noted that Wang’s “pioneering spirit” has served him well in many aspects of life since completing his degree in 1997. Wang also earned a master’s degree at Maurer in 1993.

Wang returned to Taiwan to accept a position as an assistant professor in the College of Informatics at Yuan Ze University. He moved on to Shih Hsin University, where he taught law for about 10 years. He directed the country’s Science and Technology Law Institute and Institute for Information Technology and served as a spokesman in the Office of the President of the Republic of China.

Since 2012, Wang has been minister of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council. He also is a senior adviser on its National Security Council.

“Upon graduating from IU, Tony worked as a beloved professor in Taiwan, all the while answering the seemingly constant call to play a major role in many government advisory committees,” Davis said. “The fact that Tony was chosen as the minister for mainland affairs came as no surprise to those of us who know him as an extremely sharp, open-minded, pragmatic, collaborative, and yet humble academic and public servant.

“Looking at the picture in The New York Times and seeing the sheer glee on Tony’s face as he reaches for his Chinese counterpart’s hand is to see quintessential Tony: If anyone can ease cross-strait tensions, Tony Wang can.”

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