Taiwan being a democratic nation proves that Asian values and democratic ideals are compatible, former Estonian president Toomas Hendrik Ilves said during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday.
Ilves and other foreign dignitaries were invited to participate in this year’s Ketagalan Forum, titled Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue, in Taipei on Tuesday.
The meeting between Tsai and Ilves was also attended by Japanese lawmaker Keisuke Suzuki, former Australian ministers for defense Kevin Andrews and Christopher Pyne, and Lyon Institute of Political Studies associate professor Stephane Corcuff, as well as Ilves’ wife, Ieva Ilves.
Toomas Hendrik Ilves said things had changed since he visited Taiwan four years ago, citing increased tensions across the Taiwan Strait and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Security is no longer just a geopolitical issue, he said.
Living in a digital era, people, governments and companies are prey to hacking, network sabotage and disinformation, he said.
As conflicts and hostilities between democratic countries and authoritarian regimes continue, democracies need to defend themselves and rethink possible security threats, he said.
“We need a new security architecture that takes into account that we’re no longer living in a world strictly constrained by geopolitics and that we need to have a new form of an alliance based on shared values: free and fair elections, respect for human rights, the rule of law, and so on,” he said.
The expansion of liberty over the past few decades has disproved the idea promoted by authoritarian regimes that lack of freedom is rooted in culture, or that certain civilizations do not need respect for human rights or the rights of the individual, he said.
“One of the signature roles of Taiwan these days is to show the fallacy — the fallacy of the idea propagated by Russia, by the PRC [People’s Republic of China] and recently also Malaysia — that Asian values that are incompatible with the concepts of freedom, liberty [and] individual rights. And that is why it is so good to come to Taiwan to see proof that there are universal values,” he said.
Tsai said the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the world economy and led to a rapid restructuring of global supply chains.
“The expansion of authoritarianism has reminded us more than ever that democratic countries must unite to cultivate deeper economic and trade cooperation, and jointly develop more resilient supply chains,” she said.
Taiwan continues to seeks to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, as it is willing and able to meet the high standards of international trade, Tsai said.
The government last year sent a trade delegation to central and eastern Europe to explore investment opportunities, which yielded 18 memorandums of understanding on industrial and academic collaborations, Tsai said.
“We are currently rolling out our plan to strengthen ties with Europe, and continue to deepen cooperation and partnership with the European Union,” she added.
In March, Taiwan, Japan, Australia, Slovakia and the US jointly held a workshop under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework to discuss combating financial cybercrimes, Tsai said.
“Taiwan stands on the front line of defending democracy. We seek to jointly safeguard the values of freedom and democracy with our global democratic partners, and proactively contribute to the long-term stability and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region,” she said.
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