On the morning of December 16, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the French National Assembly led by France-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman François de Rugy. In remarks, President Tsai emphasized the increasing importance of close collaboration between democratic partners in the face of rapid changes to the global landscape and the continued spread of authoritarianism. The president also affirmed that Taiwan will do everything in its power to fulfill its international obligations, and said she looks forward to working together with France and other like-minded partners from the European Union to make even greater contributions to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific as well as to development and prosperity around the world.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
To Chairman François de Rugy, as well as National Assembly members Jean-Luc Reitzer and Jean François Mbaye: welcome back to Taiwan. And to National Assembly members Jean-Louis Bricout, Frédérique Dumas, and Aina Kuric: it is a pleasure to welcome you on your first visit here.
All of you are true friends of Taiwan, longtime supporters of Taiwan in the National Assembly, and active proponents of exchanges between our nations. This year has seen remarkable progress in our bilateral relationship. In May and November, the French Senate and National Assembly, respectively, for the first time passed resolutions in support of Taiwan's international participation.
We have truly felt the French Parliament's strong support for Taiwan. On the day the National Assembly debated its resolution, many of its members delivered remarks which deeply moved the people of Taiwan. I want to take this opportunity to give special thanks to Chairman de Rugy and his fellow National Assembly members for your support.
Over the past few years, Taiwan and France have enjoyed close exchanges and productive cooperation in fields such as trade, disease prevention, technology, and energy. Today, facing the challenges of a post-COVID era, I trust that Taiwan and France will have even more opportunities for collaboration in the areas of supply chain restructuring, information security, and technological innovation.
In the first half of 2022, France will take its turn holding the presidency of the Council of the European Union. We hope that, with France's leadership, the EU can continue to advance the signing of a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) between Taiwan and the EU, which would open the door to further cooperation between our two sides.
A number of the National Assembly members here today are also members of the Foreign Affairs Committee. I want to state how increasingly important it is that democratic partners collaborate closely, given the rapid changes to the international landscape and the continued spread of authoritarianism. Taiwan will do everything in its power to fulfill its international obligations, and we hope to work together with France and other like-minded EU partners to make even greater contributions to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific as well as to development and prosperity around the world.
In closing, I would like to again thank all of you for your visit, which shows your support for Taiwan and the importance you place on our ties. And, to build on the legislative exchanges between our countries, we hope that in the near future, we will be able to welcome French cabinet ministers to Taiwan as well. I look forward to continuing our work to deepen ties between Taiwan and France.
Chairman François de Rugy then delivered remarks, thanking President Tsai on behalf of all the delegates for the invitation to visit Taiwan. Chairman de Rugy pointed out that the delegation comprises members of five different parliamentary groups in the French National Assembly, and that seven of the National Assembly's nine parliamentary groups voted in favor of the resolution he proposed that calls on the French government to support Taiwan's participation in international organizations. Chairman de Rugy noted that the French government made supportive statements during the National Assembly's debate on the resolution, and reiterated its policy of encouraging constructive regional dialogue to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Chairman de Rugy expressed hope that France and Taiwan can deepen their collaboration, especially in the economic sphere, such as the production of semiconductors and renewable energy, while also working with each other and the international community to address the challenges posed by climate change and the pandemic.
Chairman de Rugy added that, in addition to focusing on public policy, the France-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group is working to deepen exchanges between French parliamentarians and Taiwanese officials. The chairman noted that Taiwan is home to a vibrant civil society, and that the democratic transition which began in Taiwan 30 years ago has achieved outstanding results, with Taiwan's free and transparent elections, independent media, and freedoms of expression and association all signs of political diversity as well as values that Taiwan shares with France.
Chairman de Rugy stated that his delegation came to Taiwan both to develop effective cooperation between our two sides and to focus on the issue of peace, and concluded his remarks by wishing Taiwan and France continued friendship and collaboration.
Also in attendance at the meeting was French Office in Taipei Director Jean-François Casabonne-Masonnave.