If Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system.

Indeed, with its high-tech leadership and educated and globalized workforce, Taiwan is well positioned to help create secure global supply chains in sectors such as semiconductors, biotechnology, and renewable energy—all areas where international cooperation is needed now more than ever. Our semiconductor industry is especially significant: a “silicon shield” that allows Taiwan to protect itself and others from aggressive attempts by authoritarian regimes to disrupt global supply chains. We are working to further strengthen our role in securing global supply chains with a new regional high-end production hub initiative, which will solidify our position in the global supply chain. Besides making computer chips, Taiwan is active in high-precision manufacturing, artificial intelligence, 5G applications, renewable energy, biotechnology, and more, helping create more diverse and global supply chains that can withstand disruption, human or otherwise.

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Taiwan derives additional soft power from expertise and capabilities in a variety of other fields, including education, public health, medicine, and natural-disaster prevention. And these are fields in which our experts and institutions are taking on a growing regional role. Our universities, for example, are prepared to work with other universities in the region to develop Chinese-language training. Our medical facilities are sharing expertise in medical technology and management with partners around Asia. And we are ready to work with major countries to provide infrastructure investment in developing countries, leveraging efficiency while promoting good governance, transparency, and environmental protection. Similar efforts are being made through an agreement with the United States to enhance cooperation on infrastructure financing, investment, and market development in Latin America and Southeast Asia. In short, Taiwan can be a crucial force in the peaceful development and prosperity of our region and the world.

DEMOCRATIC VALUES

Sitting on the frontlines of the global contest between the liberal democratic order and the authoritarian alternative, Taiwan also has an important part to play in strengthening global democracy. In 2003, we established the region’s first nongovernmental organization devoted to democracy assistance and advocacy, the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. Following the models set by the United States’ National Endowment for Democracy and the United Kingdom’s Westminster Foundation for Democracy, the TFD provides funding for other nongovernmental organizations, international and domestic, that advocate democratic development and human rights. It also works to promote public participation in governance through mechanisms such as participatory budgeting and to encourage youth engagement through initiatives such as the annual Asia Young Leaders for Democracy program. In 2019, the TFD organized its inaugural regional forum on religious freedom, and my government appointed its first ambassador-at-large for religious freedom. 

 

Taiwan’s strong record on democracy, gender equality, and press and religious freedom has also made it a home for a growing number of global nongovernmental organizations, which have faced an increasingly difficult environment in Asia. Organizations including Reporters Without Borders, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, the European Values Center for Security Policy, and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom have set up regional offices in Taiwan. From Taiwan, they are able to continue their important work in the region without the constant threats of surveillance, harassment, and interruptions by authorities. We have also made ourselves hospitable to international institutions interested in establishing a presence in the Indo-Pacific, helping turn Taiwan into a hub for advancing the interests of the democratic community.

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