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President Tsai addresses GTI Annual Symposium

2022-10-06
Presidential Office
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President Tsai addresses GTI Annual Symposium
President Tsai addresses GTI Annual Symposium

On the evening of September 5 (morning of the same day US EST), President Tsai Ing-wen delivered remarks via video at the opening of this year's Global Taiwan Institute Annual Symposium.

President Tsai stated that China's persistent military exercises and gray zone operations undermine the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. She added that global solidarity is key to countering authoritarian expansion, safeguarding democracy, and addressing shared challenges. Noting that without the chance to participate in the specialized agencies of the United Nations, Taiwan cannot share its expertise on pressing global issues, President Tsai reaffirmed that the people of Taiwan, like all other people, deserve the opportunity to be heard and to contribute, and that Taiwan's inclusion in the UN system can only benefit global welfare. 

The president emphasized that Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded partners to advance international development and prosperity, ensure the security of key global supply chains, and pave the way for greater economic resilience. With Taiwan set to open its borders to travelers next week, the president expressed hope for more frequent exchanges with our partners in the United States and around the world in defense of freedom and democracy.

A transcript of President Tsai's speech follows:

It is my pleasure to help mark the opening of this year's Global Taiwan Institute Annual Symposium. I want to thank GTI Chair Jennifer Hu, Executive Director Russell Hsiao, and the GTI board and staff for organizing this important event.

I also want to thank all of you here in person and online for your work to strengthen Taiwan-US ties. The relationship between our countries and peoples has never been more important, nor have your efforts ever been more necessary or timely. 

As we speak, the rules-based international order faces unprecedented challenges. Russia's invasion of Ukraine has underlined the gravity of the threat posed by authoritarian states. This threat is increasing in the Indo-Pacific region amid continued authoritarian expansion.

China's persistent military exercises, gray zone operations, and incursions with military personnel, weaponry, and drones into the areas around Taiwan undermine the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.

These irresponsible actions encroach on Taiwan's sovereignty and threaten peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. They also endanger air and maritime safety as well as international trade in an attempt to erode international law and norms.

It is heartening to know, however, that Taiwan is not alone in facing such aggression. We deeply appreciate the support from administration and elected officials in the US who, together with friends from G7 nations and many other like-minded partners around the world, condemned China's military provocations.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Biden administration and members of congress from both sides of the aisle for upholding the US commitment to Taiwan's security under the Taiwan Relations Act and the Six Assurances. Over the past year, Taiwan welcomed a number of important US military arms sales designed to help us address and deter aggression.

But we will not depend on others to come to our own defense. That is why I want to reiterate that Taiwan is fully committed to protecting our security and maintaining our democratic way of life. We are also working to adapt our defense strategy to the changing threats we face.

To this end, we have substantially increased our defense spending, including on asymmetric warfare capabilities, weapons upgrades, and domestic vessel production. And earlier this year, we established the All-out Defense Mobilization Agency to enhance coordination of our reserve training and civil defense.

In addition, with about 30 million cyberattacks launched against our government every month, Taiwan is investing in cybersecurity infrastructure and harnessing our newly established Ministry of Digital Affairs to help counter disinformation and hybrid warfare.

We know from history and current events that threats against any one country or region translate, directly and indirectly, to increasing threats against its neighbors. This is why global solidarity is key to countering authoritarian expansion, safeguarding democracy, and addressing shared challenges.

Taiwan is a reliable partner and a responsible stakeholder in the rules-based international order, and we always stand ready to lend a hand to friends in need. At the outbreak of COVID-19, Taiwan ramped up our mask production, donating over 10 million face masks to the US alone. And after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Taiwan donated more than 580 tons of supplies and US$45 million in aid to help Ukrainian refugees.

But this spirit of solidarity is hampered by the exclusion of Taiwan in the UN system. Taiwanese experts, journalists, and students are denied access to UN meetings, including last month's General Assembly.

Despite Taiwan's unique success in containing COVID-19, it is still difficult for Taiwan to coordinate with the World Health Organization on pandemic prevention.

And even though Taiwan is a hub of international air travel, we are prevented from engaging with the International Civil Aviation Organization on international aviation safety efforts.

Without the chance to participate in these and other specialized agencies of the UN, Taiwan cannot share our expertise on pressing global issues. UN Resolution 2758 is often invoked to justify Taiwan's exclusion, even though this resolution makes no mention of Taiwan.

We are grateful to our many allies and friends around the world who have spoken up at the UN and other venues for Taiwan's international participation. Their messages of support reflect the simple truth that only Taiwan's democratically elected government has the right to represent the Taiwanese people. The people of Taiwan, like all other people, deserve the opportunity to be heard and to contribute. The inclusion of Taiwan in the UN system can only benefit global welfare.

Despite these barriers to our international participation, Taiwan will continue to work with like-minded partners to advance international development and prosperity. Especially since the pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine exposed critical bottlenecks in global trade, Taiwan has stepped up cooperation with the US and other like-minded countries to ensure the security of key global supply chains.

Building on years of cooperation under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and the Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, we launched the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade earlier this year. This initiative is a major step forward for our bilateral economic ties and paves the way for greater economic resilience amid a changing global landscape.

Taiwan and the US are also actively cooperating in sectors of strategic interest. Taiwanese semiconductor firms are investing billions of US dollars to build plants in the US. These projects are expected to create thousands of jobs and enhance the resilience of our supply chains for key strategic resources.

With Taiwan set to open its borders to travelers next week, I look forward to more frequent exchanges with our partners in the US and around the world. At a time when global democracy and the rules-based international order are facing their greatest test since World War II, we must return to what President George Washington called "first principles" in responding to the challenges of our time.

Let us recommit ourselves to the core principles that have guided our shared prosperity. Taiwan stands with the US and our friends and allies in defense of freedom and democracy, and we are grateful for your support of our country.

Once again, I want to thank GTI for the invitation to speak, and all of you here today for your work to promote engagement with Taiwan. I wish you all the best of health and a productive annual symposium. Thank you.

Founded in 2016, GTI is a Washington, DC-based think tank focused on enhancing the public's understanding of issues relating to Taiwan. The theme of this year's annual symposium is "US-Taiwan Relations: Advancing a Rules-Based International Order" with four panel discussions titled "Grand Strategy Post-Russian Invasion of Ukraine," " Economic Security, Tech, and Trade," " Cross-Strait Relations and Internationalization of the Strait," and "Integrated Deterrence, Defense, and Security Cooperation." Representative to the US Bi-khim Hsiao (蕭美琴) delivered introductory remarks at the event. Several former US government officials, experts, and scholars delivered addresses or participated in panel discussions.

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