Dr. Gerrit van der Wees was born in 1945 in The Hague, The Netherlands. He grew up in The Netherlands East Indies / Indonesia, where he developed a strong affinity for Asia.
He and his family returned to the Netherlands in 1957, where he went to high school in Utrecht (graduated 1962). In 1962-1963 he spent one year as a high school exchange student in upstate New York.
From 1963 through 1970 he attended Delft University of Technology, graduating with a degree in aerospace engineering in 1970. He interrupted his studies for one year, 1968-1969, to work at the NASA Space Center in Houston on the Apollo Lunar Landing program.
From 1970 to Summer 1971 he taught a graduate course in rocket propulsion at the Delft University of Technology.
In the Fall 1971 he started graduate school at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 1975 this merged into an interdisciplinary PhD program which required two years of field work in Tanzania, East Africa. The research focused on the country’s early history and economic development. He received his PhD in 1981.
During the period 1977 through 1981 he taught various interdisciplinary courses at the University of Washington’s School of Arts and Sciences.
At the University of Washington he also met his Taiwan-born wife, and developed a keen interest in Taiwan and its history. Since then he has written many articles and given many presentations on developments in Taiwan, focusing in particular on the early Dutch and Spanish history of Taiwan, and its transition to democracy in the 1980s.
Since 1980, Dr. Van der Wees has been editor and publisher of Taiwan Communiqué, a bi-monthly publication chronicling developments in and around Taiwan. In the subsequent years, Taiwan Communiqué played a key role in focusing the attention of the American Congress, the State Department, and the international community on Taiwan’s special history and status.
From 1982 through 2005 he served as a civil servant in the government of The Netherlands. During that period --from 1994 through 2000 -- he served as a diplomat at the Dutch Embassy in Washington, and became a key insider in US policy debates on US relations with Taiwan.