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Taiwan FM emphasizes democracy, trust in Slovakia speech

2021-10-28
Focus Taiwan
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Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.
Foreign Minister Joseph Wu.

Taipei, Oct. 26 (CNA) Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu called on like-minded countries to create a "democratic supply chain" for the post-pandemic era, during a visit to Slovakia Tuesday.

Making a rare public speech overseas, Wu gave the keynote address at a conference in Bratislava hosted by the Slovakian think tank GLOBSEC on the theme: "Resilience in a post-pandemic world."

In a nod to humanitarian exchanges between Slovakia and Taiwan over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wu's speech emphasized the importance of creating trust between trading partners through shared values.

"I believe that through working together with trustworthy, like-minded partners who share the good faith in free and fair competition, transparency and market economy, our newly reorganized democratic supply chain would be more resilient than ever," he said.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Slovakia was one among a number of countries to receive donations of then-scarce medical supplies from Taiwan, including tens of thousands of surgical masks, according to Wu.

Slovakia later provided Taiwan with 160,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses at a time when the island was struggling to secure adequate supplies, with Wu saying that his country was truly grateful for the gift.

"On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I want to say that we are all deeply touched seeing such a virtuous cycle being established, and Taiwan will continue to contribute whatever we can, whenever we can," Wu said.

The minister, however, said the global fight against the pandemic was not over, adding that cooperation and solidarity were desperately needed to address shared problems such as shortages in key industries such as the automotive industry.

Wu said Taiwan and Slovakia both had much to gain from enhanced cooperation on trade, investment and industrial linkages given that Taiwan was a critical provider of intermediate goods and auto parts.

But Wu was quick to underline the need for strong democratic institutions in bolstering post-pandemic resilience.

The "alarming increase of military exercises, hybrid and cognitive warfare operations" launched by China against Taiwan had "put our democracy under acute threat," Wu said.

"However, we are not afraid, and Taiwan is not alone."

Alluding to increased bilateral exchanges between Taiwan and Slovakia, Wu said the pursuit for freedom and democracy was bringing like-minded countries closer together.

As an example, Wu pointed to Slovakia's co-hosting for the first time in September of an online workshop under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), a program created by Taiwan and the U.S. to address global issues of mutual concern in conjunction with other like-minded partners.

"We are friends and we are democracies. We support each other enthusiastically, we trade with each other freely, and we cooperate and contribute however we can wholeheartedly when the other is in need of assistance," he said.

Wu's public speech took place during the first leg of an ongoing European tour that will also see him visit the Czech Republic.

Whilst in Europe, Wu will also speak virtually at a conference organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, in Rome, Italy, on Oct. 29.

The visit of a Taiwanese foreign minister to two countries with which it has no official diplomatic relations is a rarity, with China normally pressuring hosts to prevent such trips from going ahead.

The nation's foreign ministers do visit countries that have no diplomatic ties with Taiwan to hold meetings with Taiwanese diplomats stationed there, but such visits are usually conducted privately or not made public until they are concluded.

The last time Wu visited Europe and had a public schedule was in 2019, when he spoke at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in Denmark.

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