Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen praised the island nation’s relationship with the United States under the Trump administration, saying that the two nations have “never been closer.”
Tsai made the remarks during a speech she gave to the Hudson Institute on Wednesday, in which she highlighted the increasing threat that China poses to Taiwan.
“Taiwan has become a full-fledged democracy. Our 23 million people have the right to determine our own futures, which is antithesis to the position Beijing has taken,” Tsai said. “Consequently, we must ensure that cross-strait interactions do not jeopardize our freedoms, democracy, and way of life. The people of Taiwan expect nothing less from their democratically elected government.”
“Upholding these principles requires us to be able to defend Taiwan against coercive actions,” Tsai continued. “It entails backing up our words with actions. And this is precisely what I have in mind as I preside over the current round of capacity building of our military. I am pleased that working together with our legislature last year, we unveiled our largest ever defense budget, reaching 2.3% of our GDP. I fully expect that this number will continue to grow, but what will be equally important is ensuring that these resources are being spent on the right capabilities. This is why I am committed to accelerating the development of asymmetric capabilities under the overall defense concept.”
Tsai said that ramping up Taiwan’s military power was the nation’s “number one priority” as they face an increasingly aggressive Chinese Communist Party.
“As effective our military is, we cannot stand alone without support from the community of like-minded democracies,” Tsai said. “I am proud that the relationship between Taiwan and the U.S. has never been closer. Across the board, we share a high degree of mutual trust and a common strategic picture of how we can work together to protect and preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific. I am pleased that my new representative to the U.S., Bi-khim Hsiao, has arrived in Washington, D.C., and looks forward to engaging in more of these discussions.”
“In my second term, I will continue our cooperation with the U.S. Foremost amongst my priorities is to establish a constructive security relationship built on the clear understanding of our shared interests in the region,” Tsai continued. “I am confident that our common acknowledgement of challenges in the region transcends politics and political parties. Through more frank and robust policy level dialogue, we want to forge greater consensus on ways we can preserve peace across the Taiwan Strait.”
Tsai also mentioned the Trump administration’s recent deal with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world’s leading advanced microchip manufacturer. TSMC announced that it will build a new factory in Arizona as part of the $12 billion deal that will create thousands of new professional jobs. Following the deal, the Trump administration cut off China’s Huawei from being able to receive products from TSMC.
“My third priority is to work with the U.S. to strengthen engagements with other like-minded democracies,” Tsai concluded. “We have noticed the U.S.’ effort to build greater awareness in Europe, Asia, Africa, and many other places about the challenges posed by authoritarian actors. At the Copenhagen Democracy Summit held in June, I saw firsthand the growing consensus amongst like-minded countries about the need to take a forceful stand in defense of global democracy.”
Had a productive meeting with @SecAzar & the @HHSGov delegation. Thank you to @POTUS and @SecPompeo for supporting the #TaiwanModel & our international participation. Working together, we can prove that democracy is the best system to overcome global challenges. pic.twitter.com/8qztU4ClOK
— 蔡英文 Tsai Ing-wen (@iingwen) August 10, 2020