Taiwan President Bestows Medal to Gerrit van der Wees

A man in a blue suit with a purple and gold sash across his chest stands next to a woman in a dark suit as they face the camera.
Taiwan then-president Tsai Ing-wen, right, awards Schar School adjunct professor Gerrit van der Wees with the Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon. Photo by CNA.

Schar School of Policy and Government adjunct professor Gerrit van der Wees has been presented with a presidential medal by outgoing Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (her term ended May 20). The Order of the Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon, conferred on the former Dutch diplomat on May 19, is one of Taiwan’s highest civilian honors.

The award was given primarily for van der Wees’ founding editorship of Taiwan Communiqué, a bimonthly, prodemocracy publication covering the island’s transition to democracy beginning in 1980 to 2016. The publication played a key role in informing the U.S. Congress, the Department of State, and the international community of Taiwan’s successes and challenges.

In receiving the honor, van der Wees told the Taipan Times the publication will continue to keep records of Taiwan’s transformation for future generations. He stressed that there remained dangerous challenges for Taiwan, such as continued threats from Beijing to isolate it on the international stage.

Van der Wees has taught the History of Taiwan at George Mason University’s Schar School since 2012, as well as a graduate course on Current Issues in East Asia since 2020. He continues to write commentaries on Taiwan’s history and political developments in and around Taiwan for the Taipei Times and the Diplomat.