President Tsai Ing-wen met with former Minister for Defense of Australia Christopher Pyne on the morning of August 19, and expressed our gratitude for the Australian government's support of our international participation. She also stated that Taiwan can further deepen our partnership with Australia, working together to make a real difference in the Indo-Pacific.
A translation of the president's remarks is as follows:
I would like to extend a very warm welcome to Mr. Pyne on your first visit to Taiwan. Thank you for accepting our invitation not long after completing your tenure as Australia's Defense Minister this past May. We are delighted that you are serving as keynote speaker at this year's Ketagalan Forum, which starts tomorrow, and will be sharing your valuable insight into Asia-Pacific security affairs with us.
Over the past three years, trade and investment between Taiwan and Australia have grown steadily. Taiwan is now Australia's seventh-largest export market and 14th-largest trading partner. We not only maintain close and cordial ties, but also share a common goal: ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region. You made many important contributions to this objective during your tenure as Defense Minister.
Cross-strait relations have always drawn much global attention, as they play a key role in the Indo-Pacific's stable development. The recent protest movement in Hong Kong against proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance has elicited great international concern.
As a member of the community of democracies, Taiwan supports Hong Kong citizens' pursuit of freedom and democracy. Yet we are also worried about any escalations in the situation. Let me reiterate that while Taiwan is deeply concerned, we will not interfere. I call on the Beijing and Hong Kong authorities to resolve the dispute with wisdom and sincerity. I advise them to not blame nonexistent foreign forces for any deterioration, to engage in dialogue with the Hong Kong people, and to avoid errors in judgement that may cause future generations to look back on this episode with sadness and regret.
The people of Taiwan are firmly committed to the values of freedom and democracy. We seek to further deepen our partnership with Australia, promoting bilateral dialogue and cooperation and advancing regional security and development.
In fact, Taiwan's New Southbound Policy dovetails with Australia's Indo-Pacific strategy and New Colombo Plan. Indeed, they are highly complementary. Taiwan is also strengthening cooperation and exchanges with its diplomatic allies in the Pacific in all domains. We look forward to more opportunities for collaboration with Australia, so as to jointly bolster the stability and prosperity of these Pacific nations.
Taiwan should not be associated only with the Taiwan Strait. Our country is also an indelible part of the Pacific. I want to use this occasion to express our gratitude for the Australian government's support of our international participation. Let's work together to make a real difference in the Indo-Pacific. Your visit offers us a chance to exchange views on the future direction of Taiwan-Australia cooperation. I wish you a pleasant and productive stay in our country. Thank you.