In Memoriam: David N. Laux, 1927 – 2023
It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that our former President, David N. Laux, passed away on July 2, 2023.
David served as President of the US-Taiwan Business Council (USTBC) from 1990-2000, providing steadfast leadership and direction to the organization and its staff. He presided over the Council’s visit with President Lee at Cornell in 1995, hosted numerous Joint Business Conferences, visited Taiwan many times, and met with representatives of U.S. and Taiwan companies – and with U.S. and Taiwan government officials – to discuss and advocate for the U.S.-Taiwan business and trade relationship.
David had a 40-year career with multiple federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, State, Commerce, and the Treasury, as well as at the National Security Council and at the CIA. He served as the Chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan from 1987-1990, immediately prior to accepting his role as USTBC President. After leaving the Council, David served as the President of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Forum, an educational foundation, until 2004. He retired to Florida in 2015.
After 1979s switch in recognition from the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan policy was in a vulnerable place. The U.S. Congress had passed the Taiwan Relations Act, but the relationship called out for personalities who could lead on China policy while guiding our relationship with Taiwan to a new place. Under the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, David Laux – along with Jim Lilley, Gaston Sigur, Paul Wolfowitz, and Rich Armitage – was pivotal in guiding the U.S. to a new relationship with the island.
David’s leadership spanned nearly 15 years on the National Security Council, as Chairman and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, and then as President of USTBC. He had a front row seat to most of the major decisions made on Taiwan policy during this period, offering counsel and leadership where appropriate.
The 1990s marked an important transition for the USTBC, as Taiwan’s importance as a technology giant started to take hold in the internet-driven frenzy of the period. The Council’s large Annual Joint Business Conferences, held biennially in the U.S. and Taiwan, adjusted to a new breed of companies rapidly expanding the commercial relationship between the two sides. David’s steady hand kept the U.S. business community engaged with its Taiwan government and business partners.
David was also one of the most decent human beings I’ve ever met. He was compulsively kind, offering advice that would stand up in one’s personal and professional life. He had faith and an unbreakable commitment to the people he cared for. He so often found a way to say yes to the questions asked of him, opening doors to new opportunities and relationships.
In 1995 when it was announced that Lee Teng-hui would travel to Cornell University, David reached out to his friend Ding Mou-shih – then National Security Advisor to President Lee Teng-hui – and pitched him on a meeting for President Lee with USTBC Chairman’s Circle members. That meeting took place on June 9, 1995 and became part of history. David’s vision for a seat at the table for the American business community set the tone for a lasting relationship between our two countries. A legacy perfectly fitting for a man who, above and beyond all else, prioritized others over himself.
USTBC Vice President Lotta Danielsson added, “During my first few years at USTBC, David served as a gentle and encouraging mentor, whose deep knowledge and understanding of U.S.-Taiwan relations was incredibly helpful. I always enjoyed his many fantastic stories about his experiences in China and Taiwan, and learned so much from them. David was a pleasure to work with and for, and his presence always lit up a room. I’m deeply saddened at his passing, and will miss him tremendously.”
Our sympathies and prayers go to David’s wife Elna and their entire family. He was a great man who will be greatly missed.
US-Taiwan Business Council
David Nicholas Laux Memorial Well Fund at CharityWater: https://www.charitywater.org/byron-loflin-1