On the morning of July 24, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered remarks at the opening ceremony of the Ketagalan Forum: 2018 Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue.
A transcript of the president's remarks follows:
Prospect Foundation Chairman Dr. Chen (Mark Chen, 陳唐山),
Former US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter,
Distinguished guests, friends and colleagues:
I would like to welcome those who came all the way to Taiwan for this year's Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue. Welcome.
Today, we have a special guest, Secretary Carter. It has been ten years since your last visit to Taiwan. I'm very pleased that you have joined us today, and I hope that we won't have to wait for another decade to see you again.
Since I came to this event, one year ago, the economic, political, and military dynamics of our region have been evolving rapidly. Economic growth is on track to meet expectations. Just a few months ago, the leaders of North and South Korea held a landmark summit and agreed to work towards denuclearisation on the Korean peninsula.
Some regional developments are creating opportunities, but others are creating challenges. As we are all increasingly interconnected and interdependent, our external and internal challenges are becoming more and more entwined.
Those challenges, both traditional and non-traditional, are undermining our shared democratic values and the rules-based international order that helped this region establish peace, stability, and prosperity since the end of the Second World War.
Fortunately, our shared values are a common bond for all of us here. So we need not respond to these challenges alone. We can work together to ensure that future global security won't be determined by military or economic might. Instead, it will be guided by the values of freedom and democracy.
Taiwan is truly aware that regional and global security are inseparable from our own safety and prosperity.
To do our part, we are committed to robust Defense and deterrence forces. Our Defense expenditures will keep pace with our needs and GDP growth, and we are developing our indigenous Defense industry as well.
Last week, I presided over a ceremony commissioning an Apache attack helicopter group into the Army Aviation and Special Forces Command. As Commander-in-Chief, I was proud to see the strength and determination to protect democracy in our men and women in uniform.
We are also working closely with like-minded partners such as the United States, which recently green-lighted marketing licenses for firms who can help us develop indigenous submarines. And we are working to forge more cooperative ventures with regional and global partners.
One of our major efforts is the New Southbound Policy, which strengthens our ties with the nations of South and Southeast Asia, as well as Australia and New Zealand. It aims to coordinate our efforts and create a prosperous future for all.
Since we launched the New Southbound Policy two years ago, we have attracted this region's best and brightest to our universities. We are also hosting conferences and training programmes to establish people-to-people ties, and help partner nations build capacity in agriculture, public health, and ICT.
Our efforts have created new ties, and successfully spurred economic growth. Between 2016 and 2017, total trade increased from US$96 billion to US$111 billion, representing an approximately 16% increase.
Also, the only way we can jointly respond to evolving global challenges is by strengthening our regional and global partnerships.
This is why we are expanding efforts to assist countries in need through our official development assistance (ODA) programme. We work with domestic banks to help allies and friendly nations complete projects that improve their quality of life.
Another example is the US-Taiwan Global Cooperation and Training Programme. Since 2015, we have co-hosted events working with experts from 32 countries to address a wide range of issues including energy, global health security, women's empowerment, and humanitarian assistance.
By taking an open and inclusive approach, Taiwan is actively advancing our shared interests in the region, and around the world.
Regrettably, in recent years, China has adopted an aggressive policy to advance its own agenda around the world. It has continued to employ sharp power to influence its neighbours, including conducting military exercises in this region and sending aircraft to encircle Taiwan.
China has continued to poach our allies, and prevent us from engaging with the international community. It also uses its economic might to pressure multinational companies to change their designation of Taiwan.
Taiwan has been at the forefront of defending our shared democratic values, which are the foundation of the existing order that leads to prosperity for all. 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.
These questions and concerns are reflected in today's event, with participants from around the world trying to find a global response to these global challenges.
So I want to take this opportunity to thank Dr. Chen and everyone involved for making today's event possible. It is heartening to see that even as the world changes, our commitment to our shared values is unshakable.
I trust today's event will foster the discussion and debate we need, and forge a collective response that puts our shared values first. Through global cooperation like today's event, let's ensure that future generations continue to be safe, secure, and free. Let's continue to defend a rules-based international order, and the freedom and security of our peoples, now and in the years to come.