On the morning of August 4, President Tsai Ing-wen met with a delegation from the Israeli Knesset (parliament). In remarks, President Tsai said that Taiwan and Israel are key trading partners, and that we have both remained calm and steady in the face of the challenges and threats of authoritarianism, while developing highly resilient societies. The president expressed hope that we can both take advantage of our complementary industries to build more secure and resilient supply chains underpinned by democratic values.
A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:
I would like to begin by welcoming you all to Taiwan. You are the first delegation from the Knesset to visit Taiwan since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and your arrival demonstrates Israel's cross-party support for Taiwan.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. It also marks 30 years since our two countries mutually established representative offices. Over the past three decades, Taiwan and Israel have signed 32 agreements, covering such areas as technology, healthcare, and aerospace. Our cooperation has been extremely fruitful, highlighted by the working holiday agreement we signed this year, which I trust will promote youth exchanges and lead to further opportunities for cooperation.
Taiwan and Israel are key trading partners. Even during the pandemic, our bilateral trade continued to grow steadily, reaching US$3.28 billion in 2022. Moving forward, I hope we can both take advantage of our complementary industries to build more secure and resilient supply chains underpinned by democratic values.
I very much look forward to further deepening cooperation in all areas. During my visit to your country in 2013, I saw many similarities between Taiwan and Israel. We have both remained calm and steady in the face of the challenges and threats of authoritarianism. And we have continued to prosper and grow economically and socially while building highly resilient societies. Meanwhile, Israel has extensive experience in all-out national defense. In recent years, Taiwan has also striven to expand its all-out defense capacity. I believe we have much to share and learn from each other in this regard.
Israel is also a world-renowned innovator and a global leader in technology and cybersecurity. Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang (唐鳳) visited Israel this year to attend Cyber Week 2023 and spoke about Taiwan's cybersecurity defense and strategy.
I look forward to our countries collaborating more closely to achieve even greater success. Once again, I thank you all for visiting and wish you all a pleasant and productive trip.
Knesset member Yorai Lahav-Hertzanu then delivered remarks, thanking President Tsai for the warm welcome. Stating that relations between Israel and Taiwan are strong because they are based not only on shared interest, but on shared values and ideas, he said that our societies both believe in liberal democratic values and equality, are resilient and innovative, and have vibrant civil society organizations.
Mr. Lahav-Hertzanu said he was honored to visit Taiwan as we mark 30 years since the opening in Tel Aviv and Taipei of our respective offices, which are promoting the expansion of our civilian cooperation, notably in the fields of health, economic affairs, science and technology, environmental protection, and agriculture. He also mentioned that there will soon be a celebration to commemorate the establishment of the Taiwan-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
Noting that Taiwan is a very prominent and important economic partner for Israel, Mr. Lahav-Hertzanu said his country would be very happy to see Taiwanese companies expand their presence in Israel, and possibly open an R&D center, much like other international companies that enjoy the Israeli ecosystem have done. He also expressed his belief that Taiwan's excellence in hardware can complement Israel's edge in software development and lead to very fruitful cooperation.
Mr. Lahav-Hertzanu said that he is personally very impressed by Taiwan's global leadership on gender equality, exemplified by President Tsai, Digital Minister Tang, and representative to Israel Abby Ya-ping Lee (李雅萍). He added that this leadership sends a clear and direct message to everyone, especially young people in Taiwan and across the world, that people can chase and achieve their dreams and that gender is not an obstacle.
Mr. Lahav-Hertzanu said that he and the rest of the delegation are very happy to be here and that they look forward to their extensive schedule here to further expand cooperation between Israel and Taiwan.
The delegation also included members of the Knesset Hanoch Dov Milwidsky, Sharon Nir, Yasmin Fridman, and Osher Shkalim, and Adi Nahum, parliamentary advisor and chief of staff to the chair of the Knesset Taiwan friendship group.