On the morning of July 26, President Tsai Ing-wen addressed the opening of the Ketagalan Forum – 2022 Indo-Pacific Security Dialogue via video. In her remarks, President Tsai said that democratic alliances must adopt a coordinated response in the face of authoritarianism, and emphasized that the Taiwanese people are committed to defending our country, upholding our democratic way of life, and maintaining regional security and stability. The president further stated that, as an integral democratic partner in the Indo-Pacific, and as a key to maintaining regional and global security, Taiwan will continue to stand with our like-minded partners in protecting our shared values, so that future generations can enjoy the hard-earned democratic freedoms passed down to us.
President Tsai also paid tribute to the late former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo of Japan, thanking him for laying the foundation for stronger regional partnership, and noting that his efforts have left us better placed to uphold the democratic, rules-based order that will ensure our region's stability and prosperity.
A transcript of President Tsai's remarks follows:
It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to this year's Ketagalan Forum. I want to especially thank those who have traveled from abroad to be here today, as well as those who are joining us virtually across time zones.
For six years now, the Ketagalan Forum has provided officials and experts in the Indo-Pacific and around the world with a unique opportunity to share views on important regional security issues. I am hopeful that, after more than two years fighting COVID-19, we will soon be able to welcome all of you to Taiwan, so you can experience our vibrant democracy for yourselves.
I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the late former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo of Japan. With his tragic passing, Japan lost a great leader, Taiwan lost a dear friend and ally, and the world lost a statesman of great vision.
In developing the Quad and the concept of a free and open Indo-Pacific, the former Prime Minister laid the foundation for stronger regional partnership. Thanks to him, we are better placed to uphold the democratic, rules-based order that will ensure our region's stability and prosperity.
Our democratic partnerships have never been more important, as our shared values and institutions face unprecedented challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened these challenges, while exposing the stark contrast between authoritarian and democratic systems.
Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has shown us that authoritarian regimes will not hesitate to violate the sovereignty of other states. These regimes pose increasing threats to international peace and security, requiring us to adopt a coordinated response.
Here in the Indo-Pacific, authoritarian actors threaten to upend the regional balance. Their gray zone tactics seek to weaken international law and norms. Their diplomacy works to infiltrate democratic institutions and international organizations, undermining the sovereignty of other countries. And their violent crackdowns have exposed systemic human rights abuses.
Taiwan's geostrategic position on the frontlines of this authoritarian expansion makes us a crucial stronghold for democracy. With decades of experience, Taiwan can play a key role in alliances to counter authoritarian intrusion.
We are glad to see more democracies worldwide acknowledge the stakes involved in the Indo-Pacific. In the past year, we saw the founding of AUKUS, as well as new initiatives by the EU and Quad to expand regional engagement.
Just last month, Japan, Korea, Australia, and New Zealand attended a NATO summit for the first time. That summit concluded with a statement addressing the challenges posed by China. And leaders at the G7 meeting last month also underscored the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.
As an integral democratic partner in the Indo-Pacific, Taiwan has been taking measures to upgrade our security. We have set up new facilities to advance domestic development of naval vessels. We have also taken steps to bolster our reserve forces. And we have made substantial investments to enhance our asymmetric warfare capabilities. Together, these efforts are accelerating our progress toward self-sufficiency in national defense.
I want to make clear that the Taiwanese people are committed to defending our country, upholding our democratic way of life, and maintaining regional security and stability.
Taiwan is not only key to regional and global security, but is also an indispensable member of the international community. Despite facing many obstacles to our international participation, we continue to engage meaningfully with friends around the world.
Through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, that is GCTF, Taiwan has conducted exchanges with more than 100 countries on cybersecurity, women's empowerment, humanitarian assistance, and other pressing issues. Closer to home, our New Southbound Policy has helped facilitate increased investment and people-to-people exchanges between Taiwan and our regional partners.
With the launch of the US-Taiwan Initiative on 21st-Century Trade last month, we are deepening trade ties with the United States. And Taiwan and the EU are aligning our policy goals, deepening the connectivities that helped our mutual investment to reach record highs this past year.
Our world-leading semiconductor industry is also advancing our global economic cooperation. While Taiwan's top chipmakers expand their reach, our government is broadening international collaboration and stepping up R&D and training to maintain our competitive edge in this critical sector.
Taiwan can and is playing a major role in ensuring secure global supply chains. Alongside our efforts to strengthen democratic unity, supply chain cooperation can be another important tool to curb authoritarian influence.
Despite constant threats to our democratic values and way of life, we will never give up on our commitment to democracy, freedom, and human rights.
We are deeply grateful to all our like-minded partners who continue to stand with us in protecting our shared values and maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
As long as we remain united, we can stem authoritarian expansion and allow democracy to flourish. By joining together here to share ideas and build common purpose, we honor the legacy of those who strove for a more free and peaceful world. Let us stand up for our values, so that future generations can enjoy the hard-earned democratic freedoms passed down to us.
I thank you all for your contributions to this dialogue, and wish you a productive and enjoyable forum. Thank you.
Since 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwanese think tanks have co-organized the annual Ketagalan Forum to discuss important global and regional security issues with concerned parties in an effort to enhance cooperation and communication. This year's event was co-organized by the Prospect Foundation and was held in a hybrid format with guests attending virtually and in person.
Among those who participated in the event were Prospect Foundation Chairman Mark Tan-Sun Chen (陳唐山), Deputy Foreign Ministers Harry Ho-jen Tseng (曾厚仁) and Tien Chung-kwang (田中光) and Prospect Foundation President I-Chung Lai (賴怡忠). Former President Behgjet Pacolli of Kosovo was invited to record a congratulatory message for the opening of the forum, with former Japanese Foreign and Defense Minister Kono Taro and former US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to deliver keynote speeches via video, and former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia to give the closing keynote speech in person. Japanese House of Representatives Member Suzuki Keisuke and approximately 20 other political leaders and scholars from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and India conducted in-depth panel discussions with Taiwanese officials and experts.