President Tsai addresses Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2023
On May 15, at the invitation of the Alliance of Democracies Foundation (AoD), President Tsai Ing-wen addressed the Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2023 via video.
In her remarks, President Tsai said that the vibrant democracy that Taiwan is today bears testament to what a determined practitioner of democracy, characterized by good governance, can achieve. The president stated that our experience is not just about the maintenance of our own democratic way of life, it is also a demonstration of courage, strength, and sense of responsibility to safeguard the peace and stability of the region and the world.
President Tsai emphasized that through it all, the Taiwanese commitment to democracy has never been stronger, and that the people of Taiwan know that democracy is the only lasting path and the only game in town. The president said that while Taiwan deals with threats from China with resilience and courage, it is the partnership we have with like-minded countries that will prove to be the most effective defense of all, adding that by standing and working together, we can only make each other stronger.
The following is a transcript of President Tsai's remarks:
I want to begin my talk by thanking Mr. [Anders Fogh] Rasmussen for the invitation to speak at this important annual gathering of democracy supporters and advocates.
I am very happy to finally be able to meet with you, Mr. Rasmussen, this year, and to thank you in person for your friendship and unwavering support for our democracy.
I hope the trip to Taiwan allowed you to personally witness our vibrant democracy and meet our hard-working and peace-loving people.
I also learned that Executive Director [Jonas] Parello-Plesner is currently working on a book on Taiwan. I look forward to receiving a copy after its completion.
Since we met last year, we have witnessed more threats posed by the authoritarian regimes.
In order to magnify their influence, these regimes actively conduct influence operations to erode our confidence in democratic institutions and freedom. They also use disinformation, misinformation, and cognitive warfare to divide us, both at home and abroad.
Moreover, the CCP, that is the Chinese Communist Party, has intensified coercive measures, economically and politically, against countries, organizations, and individuals who disagree with or question its behavior.
Not only that, the Alliance of Democracies Foundation and Mr. Rasmussen were sanctioned by China for defending human rights and supporting Taiwan.
The Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the International Cooperation and Development Fund were also put on the sanction list after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan. After my transit in the United States earlier this year, more organizations and individuals were also sanctioned by China.
In the face of this challenge, we must remain united to deter and to stop such aggressive behavior.
As history and collective experience continue to remind us, complacency, turning a blind eye, emboldens authoritarians.
Taiwan has stood on the frontline of this authoritarian challenge for the past decades. However, our commitment to democracy has never been stronger.
Our experience is one of resilience. It is an experience of upholding democratic and progressive values, the existence of which is being constantly challenged. The vibrant democracy Taiwan is today, bears testament to what a determined practitioner of democracy, characterized by good governance, can achieve.
Our experience is not just about the maintenance of our own democratic way of life. It is also a demonstration of courage, strength, and sense of responsibility to safeguard the peace and stability of the region and the world. And through the hard work, creativity, and compassion of its 23 million people, Taiwan continues to make contributions to the world in many different ways.
Taiwanese people donated generously to Türkiye after the devastating earthquake in February this year. The Taiwan government also sent top-notch teams to assist with the rescue effort.
The people of Taiwan have also shown the same compassion to Ukraine. Taiwanese living in Europe went to designated locations to give assistance to displaced Ukrainians, while the Taiwan government delivered urgently needed supplies and equipment such as power generators.
From providing humanitarian assistance to protecting the planet through green energy; from educational exchanges and practical training to assisting with the restructuring of the world's supply chains; Taiwan not only is of geopolitical importance; it is also recognized as an integral part of the international community.
As the world acknowledges the importance of Taiwan and the dire consequences of Taiwan's democracy falling, support for a democratic Taiwan has become more collective and stronger.
In the past few years, government officials and parliamentarians, including those from EU member states, traveled to Taiwan to lend their support in person.
In the first few months of this year, Taiwan welcomed the largest European delegation from the Czech Republic, National Assembly and Senate delegations from France, parliamentarians from the United Kingdom, and many European think tanks and academics.
These visits not only concluded with concrete collaborative plans and programs. They also showed the Taiwanese people that they are not isolated and should be confident and proud of the democracy they worked so hard to achieve.
In addition, European leaders also made strong statements against military aggression and in support of peace in the Taiwan Strait. The European Commission President [Ursula] von der Leyen emphasized that the stability of the Taiwan Strait is of paramount importance.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister [Gabrielius] Landsbergis said, I quote, "We must declare that the island and its democracy-loving people are part of the rules-based order and that we will fight against any attempt to change the status quo by force, because we are willing and able to do what is right," end quote.
Furthermore, a number of EU member states spoke out in support of Taiwan's international participation, such as in the World Health Assembly. I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude again and to encourage continued support for Taiwan's participation at the WHA, which will convene in a few days.
Since our last meeting, the challenges we all face have become more profound. As the COVID-19 pandemic subsides and the world economy is on its way to recovery, we are now confronted with stronger and more serious measures from authoritarian regimes to erode our democracy. For Taiwan, our security and democratic institutions are threatened on a daily basis by China's military and other forms of warfare.
While Taiwan deals with the threats from China with resilience and courage, it is the partnership we have with like-minded countries that will prove to be the most effective defense of all.
Our democracies were all built on the sacrifices of those who fought against authoritarianism. All of us walked a long way to realize the liberty and freedom we enjoy today. And we understand how precious and sometimes fragile democracy can be. We also know how important it is for all of us to stand together.
I want to reiterate that, through it all, the Taiwanese commitment to democracy has never been stronger. The people of Taiwan know that democracy is the only lasting path and the only game in town. By standing and working together, we can only make each other stronger.
I want to conclude my remarks by thanking the Alliance of Democracies and Mr. Rasmussen again for the invitation, and for the dedication and efforts you put into uniting democracies and supporters of democracy.
I am confident that discussions at this year's Copenhagen Democracy Summit have been as productive and encouraging as before.
Lastly, it is my pleasure to address the speakers and participants again. I hope in the future, I can visit your beautiful country and participate in this important event in person. Thank you very much.
As the host of the Copenhagen Democracy Summit, the AoD is an NGO founded in 2017 by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, former prime minister of Denmark and former North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary general. The AoD held the inaugural Copenhagen Democracy Summit in 2018.
This year's Copenhagen Democracy Summit was held in person and online from May 15 to 16, and was attended by important leaders from the world's democracies, who gathered to speak up in defense of the values of freedom and democracy. Among those who addressed the summit were former Speaker of the US House of Representatives Pelosi, former Prime Minister Liz Truss of the United Kingdom, President Petr Pavel of the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of the Republic of Estonia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Minister for Foreign Affairs Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark, Chief Executive Officer of Google Eric Schmidt, and Corporate Vice President of Microsoft's Technology and Corporate Responsibility Group Teresa Hutson. Attendees included political leaders from the US, the UK, Czech Republic, the Republic of Estonia, Lithuania, Denmark, Belarus, and Ukraine, as well as technology industry leaders and representatives from think tanks, civil society groups, and the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement. Guests attended the summit in person, online or via pre-recorded remarks.