Taiwan and Australia share common values and could safeguard regional stability together, Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said yesterday.
Wu made the remarks at a luncheon hosted by the Australian Office in Taipei to promote its “Rediscover Australia, Rediscover Taiwan” campaign and as a late celebration of its Jan. 26 National Day, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In opening his speech in English, Wu took a playful jab at the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) foreign policy.
“The AIT [American Institute in Taiwan] has been trying to invite the opposition leaders, and it was difficult. But now our KMT chairman is sitting right next to Brent. It’s wonderful,” he said, referring to AIT Director Brent Christensen and KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣).
The KMT’s relations with the AIT have become awkward due to its opposition to the government’s easing of a ban on imports of pork containing ractopamine residue.
Taiwan and Australia share common values, such as democracy, the rule of law, human rights and freedom of speech, Wu said, adding that bilateral relations have become closer on many levels, including agriculture, education, energy, biomedicine, digital health and smart city infrastructure.
Australia has also become an important partner of the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, which involves the US, Taiwan and Japan, he said.
During the Indo-Pacific Leaders’ Dialogue hosted by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute in August, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) stressed that regional situations are changing rapidly and countries should respond by cooperating more closely, Wu said, adding that like-minded partners should jointly safeguard peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
Wu expressed his admiration for Australian Representative to Taiwan Gary Cowan for exploring Taiwan through mountaineering, biking around the island, swimming across the Sun Moon Lake, supporting local charities and cleaning beaches.
“Sometimes Gary is more like a citizen of Taiwan than I am,” Wu said. “I have never cleaned any of our beaches in my life. I don’t even clean up my yard.”
Cowan, who assumed the post in January 2018, said that this might be the last time for him to host the office’s annual celebration.
Thanking Taiwan for donating medical supplies to help Australia cope with bushfires and COVID-19, he said that Taiwanese are “true friends in times of need.”
“Australia has been a strong and vocal supporter of Taiwan’s case to participate in the World Health Assembly as an observer,” he said.
Other technological cooperation includes neutron beam applications, space technology and astronomy, Ministry of Science and Technology official Chu Chih-peng (褚志鵬) said.
As Taiwan has launched new research vessels, ocean research is a potential area for collaboration, he added.
Other guests at the event included Vice Premier Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津) and former New Taipei City mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫).
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