President Tsai Ing-wen met with former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott on the morning of October 7. In remarks, President Tsai thanked Mr. Abbott for supporting Taiwan's inclusion in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and expressed hope that Taiwan will continue to strengthen economic ties with Australia and the rest of the world.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I would like to extend a warm welcome to you, Mr. Abbott, on your first trip to Taiwan. In 2015, as prime minister, you met Secretary-General to the President David T. Lee (李大維), who was then serving as Taiwan's representative to Australia. I trust that this opportunity to meet with an old friend will help facilitate further cooperation and understanding between Taiwan and Australia.
Apart from our meeting today, we are looking forward to your keynote speech at the Yushan Forum tomorrow. The theme of this year's Yushan Forum is "Resetting Priorities of Progress with Resilience." We hope discussions there will advance cooperation between Asian nations in public health, economic integration, and other areas during the post-pandemic recovery.
In terms of trade and economic cooperation, Taiwan and Australia have long been important partners. Over the past five years, our bilateral trade has grown at a steady annual rate of 10 percent. And recently, Taiwan officially applied for membership in the CPTPP, in the hopes of strengthening Taiwan's trade links with Australia and the rest of the world.
Regarding security, the Australian government has been actively adjusting its strategies to respond to geopolitical changes in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia has continued to deepen its cooperation with the United States, Japan, and India under the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), where discussions have touched on Taiwan. Furthermore, the Australian government has on numerous occasions this year openly voiced support for Taiwan's international participation, and has emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan is willing to contribute to upholding regional peace and stability, and we are seeking to deepen collaboration with other freedom-loving democratic partners on vaccines, emerging technologies, climate change, and supply chains.
Thank you, Mr. Abbott, for supporting the signing of a Taiwan-Australia economic cooperation agreement and Taiwan's inclusion in the CPTPP. Your statements on the importance of a secure and peaceful Taiwan Strait are greatly appreciated.
Once again, I welcome you to Taiwan. I understand that you love the outdoors. Taiwan's natural beauty makes it an ideal destination for hiking and cycling trips, so I encourage you to visit again in the future to fully experience Taiwan's views and vitality. I hope you have a fruitful and successful visit.
In his remarks, former Australian Prime Minister Abbott thanked President Tsai for her warm welcome, saying that he felt honored to come to Taipei and that he looks forward to coming back in the future to enjoy all that Taiwan has to offer.
Former Prime Minister Abbott congratulated Taiwan on being the only place in the world to have responded so well to the pandemic, and on managing to do so without any major restrictions on economic or social activity. He commended Taiwan for achieving this despite its isolation from many international bodies, including the WHO, and mentioned that much of his reason for coming to Taiwan is to help end this isolation from which Taiwan has been suffering for so long. The former prime minister also expressed his hope that this trip would be the first of many visits to Taiwan.
Former Prime Minister Abbott said that, in many respects, Taiwan is a model for the wider world, and certainly for the region, because over the past 70 years, Taiwan has transformed itself into a vibrant, dynamic, and pluralistic democracy. He added that this has demonstrated to all countries in the region that it is possible to be prosperous and free while also enjoying liberty and democracy.
The former prime minister said that not everyone is pleased about Taiwan's progress, and that Taiwan is faced with the challenge of its giant neighbor on an almost daily basis. He also affirmed the importance of fellow democracies standing shoulder to shoulder with Taiwan, and shared his belief that countries like Australia have in recent times overemphasized fostering democracy in places where it has never taken root, and underemphasized protecting democracy in places where it has, reiterating the importance of getting this balance right in the future.
Former Prime Minister Abbott shared his belief that the best thing countries like Australia can do for Taiwan is to try and build an ever-deeper relationship across the board, particularly in trade, and that Taiwan's accession to the CPTPP would constitute a strong symbol of democratic unity. He expressed hope that Taiwan's application to join the CPTPP will be welcomed by its existing members.
The former prime minister mentioned that while he is not able to make specific commitments on behalf of the Australian government, he is nonetheless confident that he speaks for the Australian people in extending their wish for Taiwan to flourish in peace and in freedom.
Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and Australian Representative to Taiwan Jenny Bloomfield. Secretary-General to the President David T. Lee was also in attendance.