Taiwan’s robust democracy, free-market economy and vibrant civil society make it a model for the Asia-Pacific region, a US Department of State official said on Saturday.
“It is a beacon of truly representative government and a counterpoint to any who say democracy and human rights are inconsistent with Asian values,” said Jeffrey Horwitz, a senior adviser to the department’s Office of Taiwan Coordination.
The US respects and admires Taiwan’s democracy and will not get involved in the nation’s elections, he told the annual Thanksgiving banquet held by the Taiwanese Association of America’s Greater Washington Chapter.
“We are all committed to a positive relationship with whomever the people of Taiwan elect to be their next president,” he said.
Horwitz, who is to move to Taipei next summer to take up a senior position with the American Institute in Taiwan, said the two countries had a relationship based on a historic foundation of shared values.
“I want to continue to develop this relationship,” he said.
In his keynote speech to the banquet, Horwitz, who was introduced by association president Charles Kuo, said Taiwan and the US cooperate on a wide range of major issues.
The issues include space exploration, weather forecasting, fighting infectious diseases, researching cures for cancer and combating global warming, he said.
“The US-Taiwan relationship is more complex and far-reaching than most people realize,” he said.
Expanding Taiwan’s role on the international stage could be difficult, he said, but added that significant progress had been made in recent years and that Taiwan has shown it has a lot to offer in experience, capacity and resources “to assist in all kinds of global challenges.”
“Taiwan’s participation makes the world a richer, safer and more healthy place,” he said, adding that the US wants new opportunities for Taiwan in the international arena.
“I have characterized Taiwan as a success story today, but I don’t mean to minimize Taiwan’s challenges,” Horwitz said. “We all care about Taiwan’s future and the many uncertainties it faces.”
He said there was real concern about Taiwan’s economic future, opportunities for its young people, the pace of globalization and the preservation of its societal values.
“We recognize these tensions and understand that for Taiwan, they have meaning beyond the economic realm,” he said.
He said the essential elements that had enabled Taiwan’s success in the past were still present today — ingenuity, a strong moral foundation and the capacity for hard work and sacrifice.
Horwitz said the two words that best describe Taiwanese are “innovative” and “resilient.”
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