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Keynote remarks by Deputy Minister Roy Chun Lee at the GMF Taiwan Trilateral Forum One Shared Vision

  • Data Source:Department of North American Affairs
  • Date:2023-11-28

Dr. Roy Chun Lee

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs

Republic of China (Taiwan)

November 28, 2023

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Ladies and gentlemen:

Good morning! 

I. Introduction

Thank you for the gracious introduction, Ian. It is a pleasure to address this esteemed gathering. I extend my heartfelt appreciation to the German Marshall Fund for its efforts and for hosting this important forum since its inception in 2018. 

This annual event provides a valuable opportunity for nations in the Indo-Pacific and the transatlantic regions to engage with one another and discuss common challenges. Today’s geopolitical landscape is dynamic and unpredictable. It is therefore imperative that democratic countries unite against common threats, such as those posed by authoritarian regimes. Our strength lies in cohesive messaging, coordinated action, and collective deterrence.

II. The need for collective deterrence

The rise of authoritarian expansionism threatens the rules-based international order. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s increasingly aggressive actions in the Taiwan Strait have drawn global concern. And in July 2023, Russia and China conducted unprecedented joint military exercises in the Sea of Japan. China also carries out hybrid cognitive warfare, including disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks. This is particularly worrying considering Taiwan’s presidential election will be held in early 2024.

Effective deterrence requires a multifaceted approach. Beyond military strength, it must be made clear that Taiwan has the staunch backing of the United States and European nations. Ambiguity and weakness will only embolden China and increase the risk of military conflict. 

Taiwan appreciates the coordinated efforts of the United States and like-minded countries in Europe, which have emphasized the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and opposed unilateral changes to the status quo. Notably, the European Council summit’s conclusions in June marked the first time that the European Union expressed concern about growing tensions across the Taiwan Strait. The Biden administration’s commitment to Taiwan’s security, along with the continuation of arms sales, also sets a positive tone. And Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, and Australia are increasingly aligning themselves with Taiwan.

Taiwan is committed to safeguarding its homeland and way of life. While time constraints prevent me from detailing the extensive efforts and reforms underway to bolster our self-defense capabilities, key initiatives include raising the defense budget, reforming reserve forces, enhancing military-civilian integration, and building whole-of-society resilience. A significant achievement is the recent launch of the domestically produced Narwhal submarine, which is expected to be commissioned after sea trials. These efforts all contribute to credibly deterring aggression by China.

III. Taiwan’s relationship with the United States and Europe: paving the way forward

Taiwan, the United States, and European countries share the core values of democracy, freedom, and human rights. And we are committed to jointly addressing global challenges such as energy shortages and food crises. Despite challenges arising from China misusing the UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 as its excuse to prevent Taiwan from contributing to the international organizations, Taiwan remains committed to being a force for good on the international stage.

Our collective support for Ukraine is a prime example. Taiwan has cooperated with European partners to donate 860 tons of medical and humanitarian supplies, in addition to over 61 million US dollars for joint efforts to resettle Ukrainian refugees. Taiwan has further earmarked 56 million US dollars in the 2023 budget for civil infrastructure projects in collaboration with Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Lithuania.

Through the Global Cooperation and Training Framework, Taiwan has collaborated with the United States, Japan, and Australia on issues as diverse as countering disinformation, ensuring energy security, advancing public health, and promoting women’s empowerment. And under the GCTF, over 7,000 participants from more than 126 countries have received training. Taiwan invites like-minded European countries to join the GCTF as partners and cohost similar events.

Taiwan seeks collaboration with the United States and Europe to devise strategies to counter China’s gray-zone tactics, including disinformation. A GCTF event held in Italy this June brought together experts and officials from Taiwan, the United States, and the European Union to discuss current efforts. It served as a promising starting point for future initiatives, but it will not be enough. China’s ongoing disinformation campaigns aim to instill fear in the people, discredit the government, and undermine Taiwan’s relations with like-minded partners, especially the United States and the European Union. 

China’s gray-zone tactics also involve economic inducement and coercion—especially the weaponization of trade. In the face of these threats, it is more urgent than ever that like-minded countries unite. Taiwan-US collaboration is already underway through platforms such as the Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, which focuses on numerous issues, including countering economic coercion. Taiwan commends the European Council for adopting the Anti-Coercion Instrument in October. We are also heartened that the United States and the European Union are coordinating through the US-EU Trade and Technology Council and that cooperation with the Japanese government is also being enhanced. 

There is a pressing need for ongoing information sharing to combat China’s gray-zone tactics and economic coercion. Taiwan will continue to collaborate with like-minded countries to explore possibilities for collective action, including enhancing the resilience of supply chains. Taiwan would also be pleased to share its knowledge and expertise in bilateral and multilateral settings. 

IV. Taiwan is a prudent and important partner

Despite China’s intimidation and coercion, Taiwan remains vigilant and prudent. We believe in "Peace through Strength," emphasizing military, economic, and social resilience to maintain cross-strait peace. Credible deterrence is bolstered by strong and enduring commitments from the United States and the European Union. Deeper partnerships with Taiwan in technological, economic, cultural, and social domains help deter China from potential military action. However, a perceived lack of support for Taiwan could send a dangerous message to Beijing.

V. Conclusion: democratic countries must stand together

Instability across the Taiwan Strait would jeopardize global peace. Taiwan is willing and able to stand with fellow democracies to defend shared values and the rules-based international order. We call on democratic partners to support Taiwan and enhance cooperation. This would not only benefit Taiwan, it would contribute to the stability and prosperity of the entire world. 

I wish this event every success and look forward to your questions and comments during the Q&A session. Thank you!