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Recorded Video Remarks by Deputy Minister Harry Ho-jen Tseng for the Seminar on Supply Chain Security hosted by the Institute for Security and Development Policy

  • Data Source:Department of European Affairs
  • Date:2021-04-07

Dr. Harry Ho-jen Tseng
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
Republic of China (Taiwan)
April 7, 2021
(As Delivered)

Good day to you all!

I want to start by thanking the Institute for Security and Development Policy for working with our mission in Sweden to organize this closed-door discussion on supply chain security. I am pleased to see experts and scholars from the Nordic countries and Taiwan discussing the challenges facing supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today's meeting shows that despite the impact of COVID-19, Taiwan-Sweden cooperation will continue to cover a wide range of areas. Assuming COVID-19 is contained and managed, I hope we will soon gather in person to discuss issues of common interest.

Taiwan and Sweden are like-minded partners which share the core values of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and freedom of speech. Despite geographical distance and cultural differences, we have a great deal in common. It has been encouraging to see an increasing number of Swedish newspaper articles, radio shows, TV programs, and think-tank seminars discussing Taiwan and its success in containing COVID-19. Now that more people in Sweden have come to better understand Taiwan's democratic development and its antipandemic measures, I am sure there will be more opportunities to further strengthen our relations.

In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, Taiwan donated 10.9 million surgical masks to 22 European countries through the rescEU stockpile and bilateral channels within a relatively short period of time. In response, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, openly thanked Taiwan for the “gesture of solidarity” that makes Taiwan and the EU “stronger together.”

As of today, Taiwan has held more than 140 videoconferences with international partners, including officials from European Commission's Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety and Directorate-General for Research and Information, as well as the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, to share our medical expertise and knowledge in the fight against the coronavirus.

In the past year, the world has witnessed two major supply chain disruptions. The first was in pharmaceuticals and other critical medical supplies in March and April, 2020, due to the global rush for these goods. The second is the ongoing auto chip shortage. Taiwan can help in both cases as we are the second-largest producer of face masks and our chip manufacturing accounts for more than 60 percent of the global market.

In the post-COVID-19 era, as countries seek to restructure their supply chains and make them more resilient, diverse, and sustainable, I believe Taiwan and the EU—sharing as we do the values of freedom and democracy, and respect for human rights and the rule of law—are natural partners to collaborate on supply chains for semiconductors and other industries.

Taiwan can play an important role in consolidating supply chains with Sweden. We are already spending 200 million euros to develop key industries such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things, cloud computing, and semiconductors. We have demonstrated again and again a solid commitment to following global standards and playing by international rules. As we plan for a postpandemic world and evaluate what changes to global supply chains are needed, one thing is certain—Taiwan has shown it is a reliable partner and a critical player in the agenda for a more sustainable global economy. Our government and industries are willing and able to work with Sweden to establish mutually beneficial ties.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began to cast its shadow across the world earlier last year, China first concealed the fact that the virus was capable of human-to-human transmission. This led to a global catastrophe. It then condescendingly touted the efficiency of its authoritarian regime and its donations of medical equipment and now vaccines, arguing that its own model surpassed those of Western democracies. However, as a beacon of democracy in Asia, Taiwan provides strong counterevidence to China's arguments.

Along with the US and Japan, Taiwan has cohosted workshops and training programs on combating COVID-19 disinformation, strengthening cybersecurity, and cultivating media literacy under the Global Cooperation and Training Framework. By contrast, China continues to employ economic, diplomatic, and information-based strategies to undermine democracies around the world. According to a survey published recently in the renowned magazine Nature, since January 2020, various scientific journals have retracted 370 articles from China, largely because of plagiarism, fake data, or false information.

My friends, I believe we are witnessing not only the restructuring of supply chains but also the consolidation of alliances based on values and principles. The time has come for us to ensure that freedom and democracy prevail. Now more than ever, like-minded democratic partners must work closely together in a united approach to curtailing authoritarian influence.

Together, we will continue to develop stronger partnerships. I look forward to a fruitful and constructive discussion today. Thank you!