Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2023

President Tsai Ing-wen addresses the Copenhagen Democracy Summit 2023 via video

By President Tsai Ing-wen addresses

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 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 a 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, travelled 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: “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.”

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 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.

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.


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