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President Tsai speaks on Taiwan's democracy at U.S. think tank event

ROC Central News Agency

12/10/2020 12:28 PM

Taipei, Dec. 10 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in a pre-recorded speech delivered Thursday morning (Taipei time) at a virtual event hosted by a Washington-based think tank that Taiwan is determined to safeguard its freedom despite China's efforts to block Taiwan's participation in international organizations.

In her address delivered at the year-end celebration of the Hudson Institute, Tsai said the People's Republic of China has made great efforts to shut the 23 million people of Taiwan out of international organizations and is engaged in disinformation and malign influence campaigns that are designed to cast doubt on its institutions and test any weaknesses in Taiwan's democracy.

Taiwan's people do not desire this sort of cross-Taiwan Strait relationship, Tsai said. "What we seek is constructive cross-strait dialogue, in order to peacefully address differences of opinion and perspective without the need for preconditions," she said.

There is a necessity for both sides to find a way to co-exist peacefully, based on mutual respect, goodwill and understanding, she said, adding that "this has been the basis of my cross-strait policy, as it is a position that best serves the interests of peace and stability in the region."

"While the 23 million people of Taiwan do not want to live in a state of permanent antagonism, we are also determined to safeguard our freedoms and way of life," the president continued.

Taiwan has made it a priority to strengthen its most valuable asset -- democracy. It has implemented responsible ways to tackle disinformation through openness and transparency, according to Tsai.

She also noted that new legislation has been passed in response to China's malign influence in Taiwan's politics.

"Together with the U.S. and other international partners, we are also engaged on issues ranging from media literacy to accountable governance. These actions signal to all across the region about the resiliency of our democratic processes," Tsai said.

Taiwan is determined to take a different path forward, she said. "In order to do so, we must also be able to deter military adventurism and defend ourselves in the face of growing military tensions."

Tsai said that over the past four years of her term as president, she has acted on her commitments to increase Taiwan's defense budget, ending years of painful cutbacks. She added that by next year, Taiwan's regular defense spending is expected to reach US$14.9 billion, accounting for more than 2.2 percent of the country's GDP.

Most important is to ensure that Taiwan is investing in the right equipment and training, she noted, while thanking the U.S. for making available new fighter jets, as well as new asymmetric warfare capabilities, in line with Taiwan's requests.

Tsai said the security relationship is a highlight of Taiwan-U.S. relations and that she looks forward to further discussions about Taiwan's common defense picture with the U.S.

(By Yeh Su-ping and Evelyn Kao)

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