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Tsai says democracies should not rest till the whole world is free

  • Tsai says democracies should not rest till the whole world is free
    President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday emphasized the responsibility of democracies to help the rest of the world become free, in her speech at the 3rd Copenhagen Democracy Summit. Tsai says democracies should not rest till the whole world is free
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By Focus Taiwan
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President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Friday emphasized the responsibility of democracies to help the rest of the world become free, in her speech at the 3rd Copenhagen Democracy Summit.

"Those privileged to live in a democracy must never rest until the entire world can share in the birthright that is freedom," Tsai said in her eight-minute video at the summit, which was held virtually for the first time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The president said Taiwan stands on the frontline of the global community of democracies, and that it looks forward to forging closer cooperation with like-minded democracies from around the world.

She also briefly touched on the topic of Hong Kong, saying Taiwan will continue to provide necessary humanitarian assistance to the people of the former British colony, which is due to mark its 23rd anniversary of handover to China's sovereignty, but is facing growing concerns that its autonomy and freedoms will be eroded once the Chinese government begins implementing the National Security Law in Hong Kong, expected in the coming months.

"In particular, our thoughts today are with the people of Hong Kong. Taiwan has joined the international community in urging the Beijing authorities to honor their obligation to respect Hong Kong's fundamental freedoms," Tsai said.

The Copenhagen Democracy Summit was organized by the Alliance of Democracies, a non-governmental organization established in 2017 by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who is former Danish Prime Minister and former NATO Secretary-General.

The event is being held from June 18-19, and other speakers including U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, former U.S. secretaries of state John Kerry and Madeleine Albright will also speak via either a pre-recorded video or live-streaming later on Friday.

Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) delivered his speech on Thursday.

In her speech, Tsai also touched on other topics, such as Taiwan's success in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tsai described how Taiwan was fortunate to have been better prepared than most in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.

"We learned important lessons from the SARS outbreak in 2003 so that we would never be caught off guard again," she explained, noting that with the right measures, "it is possible to control the spread of the virus without sacrificing our most important democratic principles."

According to President Tsai, a combination of government action, the public's diligence and the hard work put in by countless everyday heroes helped Taiwan weather the storm.

"Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Taiwan has pooled all available assets to limit the spread of COVID-19," she said, citing examples such as the government's efforts in boosting face mask production as well as engaging in extensive contact tracing by merging its immigration and public health databases.

Meanwhile, she highlighted her disappointment that the World Health Organization (WHO) "put politics before health" and failed to invite Taiwan to share its experience at this year's World Health Assembly (WHA).

Taiwan, whose formal name is the Republic of China, was expelled from the United Nations in 1971 and from the WHO in 1972.

Since then, Taiwan has not been able to participate in the WHA, except for 2009-2016, when it attended as an observer through an invitation from the WHO, amid warm relations between Taipei and Beijing during those years under the previous Taiwanese administration.

"Nevertheless, we stand ready to support any country that needs our help," Tsai said, noting that Taiwan has so far donated essential medical supplies to over 80 countries, including more than 52 million face masks.

"For Taiwan, offering help has never been a question of quid pro quo. It is simply what friends do in times of need," she added.