President Tsai Ing-wen discussed Taiwan’s role as a bastion of freedom and democracy in the Indo-Pacific during a videoconference Aug. 12 hosted by U.S.-based think tanks the Hudson Institute and Center for American Progress.
Focusing on the economic, diplomatic and security challenges facing Taiwan, the event was also attended by, among others, Hsiao Bi-khim, head of Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S., Hudson Institute Chief Operating Officer John Walters and CAP President and Chief Executive Officer Neera Tanden.
During the speech delivered from the Presidential Office in Taipei City, Tsai said Taiwan is committed to promoting peaceful coexistence in the cross-strait relationship, as well as strengthening the partnership with the U.S. across the board.
According to Tsai, Taiwan has fared relatively well during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to a raft of stimulus measures implemented by the government to keep the local economy on track. Growing threats to freedom and democracy in the Indo-Pacific are a concern, however, with recent developments in Hong Kong serving as a salient example, she added.
In response to the situation, Tsai said the government recently established the Taiwan-Hong Kong Services and Exchange Office to provide humanitarian support and assist Hong Kongers hoping to relocate to Taiwan. She also called on the global community to speak out against the loss of Hong Kong’s freedom.
Faced with such threats, the government will strengthen Taiwan’s military by accelerating development of asymmetric capabilities, identifying ways to more effectively utilize geographical advantages and fast tracking military reforms, Tsai said.
With regards to expanding ties with Washington, Tsai said Taiwan is forging a constructive security relationship with the U.S. to preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific based on mutual trust and shared interests. Another priority is opening negotiations on a free trade agreement, she added, noting that recent months have shown the importance of economic linkages and supply chain security for both sides.
Key to the relationship is working with the U.S. to engage other like-minded partners, Tsai said, adding that more institutional and cohesive support for Taiwan’s international participation should be the first step in defending global democracy.
Source: Taiwan Today (https://taiwantoday.tw/index.php)