Taiwan will step up its efforts to consolidate its political system as a tool to drive democratization in Asia, because the stability of the region has been jeopardized by several countries -- including China -- which are resisting democracy, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday.
Chen made the remarks while giving the opening speech at the first biennial World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA) which began yesterday in Taipei and runs through today.
The president said that an ongoing worry in Asia is the persistence of non-democratic political systems.
"For the sake of both peace and prosperity, driving democratization in Asian countries and supporting civil society in the Asian region are crucial," Chen said.
Regional stability has been jeopardized by the actions of several non-democratic regimes, including North Korea's development of nuclear weapons, Myanmar's oppressive dictatorship and China's deployment of hundreds of missiles targeting Taiwan, the president said.
"China has placed people across the Taiwan Strait under the shadow of a war. The imbalance in military strength threatens not only the democratic system embraced by 23 million Taiwanese people but also Asian regional safety and order," Chen said.
A light to nations
He added that Taiwan's democratization sets a good example for other countries, pointing out that Taiwan was the first Asian country to establish a national democracy assistance foundation -- the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), launched in 2003 by an initiative supported by the Legislative Yuan. In addition, Chen said that Taiwanese democracy has been a foundation of long-term peace and stability in the region, and a great asset treasured by international society.
Taiwan has to take on the duty of opening up a closed society in Asia, assist democratization in other countries controlled by autocratic regimes, and strengthen the roots of democracy in democratized countries, Chen said.
Of great attention on the conference's agenda yesterday was the Leaders Forum which included former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), called the "founding father of modern Taiwanese democracy" by Michael Kau (高英茂), president of the TFD.
Lee pointed out in his speech the probable factors leading to the erosion and weakening of democracy in Taiwan.
One of the main reasons, Lee said, was the election of parties that are anti-democratic, relying on ideology rather than the people's will. Democracy, Lee added, should be enforced by law and order.
The factors facilitating Taiwan's democratization are its particular history, the courage of its immigrants, vibrant economy, political activities and the existence of opposition parties and leaders that have been committed to bringing democracy to Taiwan, Lee said.
Concluding his speech, Lee shared his advice for deepening democracy in Asia. The existence of democratic neighbors in the region would help spread democracy in the area, he said.
"Taiwan is a model of freedom and democracy for other countries in Asia," Lee said. "These countries should support each other to bring democracy and human rights to non-democratic countries."
In addition, the government must continue educating people so they can continue to enjoy democratic freedoms, understand and respect human rights and learn new democratic values, Lee added.
Political equality and the equal distribution of wealth and social welfare are also ways to consolidate democracy, Lee said.
The former presidents of the Dominican Republic and El Salvador and the former prime minister of Mongolia also shared their countries' struggles to democratize.
Chee Soon Juan, chairman of the Alliance for Reform and Democracy in Asia (ARDA) said he was pleased about the establishment of WFDA. Chee is also the maker of a short documentary on democracy in Asia, which was shown at the conference, and parts of which have been banned in his home country Singapore.
"[WFDA] is an institute of democracy which we can call our own," Chee said. "We must have faith and patience. Democracy will come to those who seek it."
The conference will also discuss strategies to assist with democratic transition and consolidation in Asia, the impact of China's rise on regional democratization, the political participation of Asian women and improving political accountability in Asian democracies.
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South
‘CORRUPTION’: One DPP lawmaker and two KMT legislators were held incommunicado, while former NPP chairman Hsu Yung-ming was released on bail in the Pacific Sogo case The Taipei District Court yesterday ordered that three lawmakers be held incommunicado amid a probe into allegedly bribery relating to an ownership dispute over Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). The three are Su Chen-ching (蘇震清) of the Democratic Progressive Party, and Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) and Sufin Siluko (廖國棟) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). Also held incommunicado were Su’s office director Yu Hsueh-yang (余學洋) and Sufin’s office director Ting Fu-hua (丁復華), as well as Kuo Ke-ming (郭克銘), a political lobbyist and general manager of Knowledge International Consultancy (是知管理顧問公司). The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday raided the offices of six incumbent and former