The first stop on President Tsai Ing-wen's Journey of Freedom, Democracy, and Sustainability was New York City. The president's chartered flight touched down at John F. Kennedy International Airport on the afternoon of July 11 (early morning July 12 Taipei time), and Taiwan's Representative to the United States Stanley Kao (高碩泰) and American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty boarded the plane to welcome her. The president and her delegation then proceeded to their hotel, where they received an enthusiastic welcome from Taiwan expatriates.
That evening President Tsai attended a reception at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York (TECO-New York) and met with the permanent representatives of Taiwan's allies to the United Nations. Upon arrival she was greeted by TECO-New York Director-General Lily L. W. Hsu (徐儷文), who showed the president historical memorabilia in the building's lobby, along with photos commemorating past operations and event successes of TECO-New York's United Nations Task Force.
In her remarks at the reception, President Tsai thanked our allies' permanent representatives to the United Nations for attending, and thanked everyone for enthusiastically welcoming her to New York. Although she had met them many times in Taiwan, she was quite pleased to meet friends old and new during this trip. President Tsai also said that this trip includes Haiti, St. Christopher and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and St. Lucia.
The president noted that our allies provide a crucial pathway for Taiwan to engage with the world. They help to amplify the voices of the Taiwanese people, and our aspirations are heard around the world thanks to their dedication, she added. She was delighted to have the opportunity to visit our allies in different parts of the world to renew our bonds of friendship, and work to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together.
President Tsai mentioned that Taiwan may not be large, but we are an irreplaceable member of the international community. We have much to contribute to global efforts in humanitarian aid, medical assistance, and disease prevention. She stressed that Taiwan is not, and will never be, intimidated. The challenges we face only serve to strengthen our resolve to engage with the international community, she added.
The president also said that the 23 million people of Taiwan have a right to participate in international affairs, and this right should not be subject to political preconditions. On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China (Taiwan), she then thanked our allies for consistently speaking up for our country at major international venues. Their support has placed a spotlight on Taiwan's desire to contribute to the international community, and more like-minded countries than ever are speaking up for our cause.
The president expressed hope that our allies will continue to support our UN campaign this coming September. She also said that Taiwan is ready, willing and able to do more for the world. Together, we can live up to the SDG vision to forge the world we want, and the future we need.
Lastly, she invited Taiwan allies' permanent representatives to the United Nations to raise a toast to the prosperity for Taiwan and a lasting friendship between our countries.
The delicious foods at the reception were prepared and served by Taiwanese students enrolled in The Culinary Institute of America and New York University, and President Tsai chatted with them during the reception. She complimented them for the dedication and courage they showed by pursuing their education in far-off New York, and wished them success in their studies.
President Tsai took questions from the media, and was asked about what she planned to do in New York. She responded that the delegation's main reason for visiting the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York earlier that day was to meet with the permanent representatives to the United Nations of Taiwan's diplomatic allies. One reason for meeting with them, she said, was to thank them for what they've done, are doing, and will continue to do in speaking up on Taiwan's behalf at various international bodies, and particularly at the United Nations. They have ensured that Taiwan's voice can be heard on the international stage, and informed the world about Taiwan's contributions to the international community.
The president explained that the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a long and incremental undertaking. Over the past few years, she said, interaction between Taiwan and the United States has been quite good and there has been some progress in our relationship. We will continue working to enhance our interactions, achieve further progress, and strengthen our partnership, she said.
Commenting on the negative reporting posted on some social media platforms, the president stated that this is part of China's information warfare campaign against Taiwan, and a classic case of using agents to create and spread fake news via the media to foment antagonism and conflict in Taiwan society. This is actually a major threat to Taiwan's democracy, she said, adding that we've been working for some time now to beef up Taiwan's security network for democracy.
The president then said that the same sort of thing is happening in many of the world's major democracies, and all countries are extremely focused on building a security network for democracy. Faced with information warfare or other methods used to infiltrate and divide our society, and particularly the normal functioning of our democracy, said the president, we intend to use the law and policies to give society strong protective mechanisms. These measures, she said, will require everyone working together.
Commenting on the recent US passage of an arms sale package for Taiwan, President Tsai said Taiwan thanked the United States for this approval, and that we will continue to strengthen our self-defense capabilities. Addressing protests in Hong Kong, the president commented that the people of Hong Kong have recently taken to the streets to express their desire for democracy and freedom, hoping that their human rights are respected. The president called on the Hong Kong government to respond to the hopes and demands of the people so that Hong Kong society can return to stability.