President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday pledged to defend Taiwan and the world’s shared democratic values amid Beijing’s continued attempts to employ its sharp power to influence its neighbors.
Tsai made the remarks in her opening address to the Ketagalan Forum: 2018 Asia Pacific Security Dialogue, which was held in Taipei by the Prospect Foundation at the behest of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and attended by a special guest from Washington, former US secretary of defense Ash Carter.
The forum focused on four areas: the situation on the Korean Peninsula, China’s sharp power and its challenges to the democratic world, the geo-economic environment of the Indo-Pacific region and the integration of Taipei’s New Southbound Policy with Washington’s Indo-Pacific strategy.
Over the past few years, China has used an aggressive policy to advance its own agenda, and continued to employ sharp power to influence its neighbors, including conducting military exercises in the region and sending military aircraft to encircle Taiwan, Tsai said.
This aggressiveness is also evidenced by Beijing’s continued efforts to poach Taiwan’s allies, to block it from the international community and to use its economic might to pressure multinational companies into changing how they refer to Taiwan, she said.
“Our challenge today is to find ways to work together and ensure that our shared interests will survive any unwanted economic, political or military coercion,” she added.
With that goal in mind, Tsai said that her administration is committed to bringing defense expenditures in line with the needs of the military and GDP growth, and promoting the indigenous defense industry.
The government is working with like-minded partners on the matter, as it strengthens Taiwan’s regional and global partnerships, Tsai said, adding that this is the only way for global actors to jointly respond to evolving global challenges.
Carter, who served as US secretary of defense in former US president Barack Obama’s administration, said on the sidelines of the forum that he encourages a strong relationship between the US and Taiwan, including militarily.
“I am a strong supporter of the traditional US policy favoring stability and dialogue across the Strait, implementation of the Taiwan Relations Act and a strong, unofficial relationship with Taiwan, including in the military sphere,” Carter said.
Taiwan is part of a network of countries favored by the US’ broader Indo-Pacific strategy, which pursues security based on rules and principles, not coercion, Carter added.
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