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Remarks by Deputy Minister Tien, Chung-Kwang at the 2021 NGO Leaders Forum

  • Data Source:Department of NGO International Affairs
  • Date:2021-12-14

Tien, Chung-kwang
 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs 
 Republic of China (Taiwan) 
 December 14, 2021
(As Prepared for Delivery)

Good morning!

Welcome to the 2021 NGO Leaders Forum hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. MOFA held this forum for the first time last year in hopes of establishing an institutionalized mechanism for dialogue between government agencies and nongovernmental organizations. The event was warmly received by all parties. Over 400 NGO leaders, business people, government officials, and other guests from home and abroad took part. The widespread support and encouragement persuaded MOFA to redouble our efforts and continue to host the forum this year. By meeting together, we can find common ground, help strengthen the virtuous cycle created by civil society, and expand Taiwan's international participation.

In recent years, the international political and economic landscape has seen dramatic changes. This has brought about many challenges as well as opportunities for Taiwan's diplomacy. China continues to ramp up its rhetorical and military threats against Taiwan, and maliciously restricts Taiwan's international space. China not only seeks to exclude the government of Taiwan from engagement in the UN system and other international governmental organizations, but also aims to downgrade the status and rights of Taiwan's civil society groups in international sporting events and academic exchanges. However, the more unreasonable China's bullying becomes, the stronger the international support for Taiwan. Heavy-handed wolf-warrior diplomacy only serves to highlight the virtuous and positive values of Taiwan. The world can see the worth of liberal democracy. This has won Taiwan many friends.

During the pandemic, the dynamic performance of civil society further raised Taiwan's international profile. MOFA has been cooperating with NGOs through videoconferences and other means to share our soft power with the world in fields such as medicine and health care, gender equality, diversity in education, environmental sustainability, and technological innovation. We have also supported partnerships with global NGOs to facilitate humanitarian assistance, free clinics, and other local activities around the world. These include assisting the Garden of Hope Foundation to implement the 2021 Asian Network of Women's Shelters Project, the Noordhoff Craniofacial Foundation to organize the Vietnam Medical Mask Donation Project, and many other actions initiated by NGOs that are too numerous to mention.

Taiwan has an outstanding record in human rights, gender equality, freedom of the press, religious freedom, and other areas. This has attracted many international media outlets and NGOs to one after another come to establish offices in Taiwan. With assistance from the government, over the past year or so, 26 international media outlets and 54 foreign correspondents have moved to Taiwan. The US National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, as well as Germany's Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom, have also set up a presence here. The vision of Taiwan becoming a leading new hub in the Asia Pacific is steadily coming to fruition.

At today's opening ceremony, we have invited Damon Wilson, President and CEO of the world-renowned INGO the US National Endowment for Democracy, and Denise Scotto, Vice President of the International Federation of Women in Legal Careers, to deliver prerecorded messages. The following session on democracy diplomacy will introduce new friends from Europe and the United States. We hope to see more cooperation and exchanges between local and foreign NGOs.

Another notable issue in recent years is the active participation in international affairs by Taiwan's local governments. Local governments have formulated targets and recommendations in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Outstanding results have already been achieved in ICT, smart cities, gender equality, environmental protection, sustainability, and other areas. This year, we have specially arranged a roundtable discussion on city diplomacy. Local government officials responsible for international affairs have been invited to tell us all about their visions and practices.

In recent years, Taiwan has received international attention and acclaim for its promotion of women's empowerment and gender equality. This afternoon, the session on feminist diplomacy will further cover emerging issues in the area of global gender equality and the innovative ways Taiwan's women's groups are connecting with the international community. Of course, this summer the Tokyo Olympics captured the hearts of the entire nation, as Taiwanese athletes recorded their biggest ever medal haul. MOFA has invited leaders of sporting associations as well as athletes to join the session on sports diplomacy to discuss how to combine the capabilities of government and civil society to further raise the international profile of Taiwan at future competitions.

These sessions cover topics of interest and concern to all of you. I hope that today's brainstorming will produce some new ideas and practices, and demonstrate that Taiwan is a reliable partner and a force for good in the world.

The NGO leaders and other participants here today are valuable resources and key assets for Taiwan's diplomatic efforts. I would like to thank everyone for your enthusiastic participation and for your support of Taiwan's diplomacy. We hope to continue to build partnerships with NGOs so that Taiwan's soft power can be even more visible to the international community. Finally, I would like to wish every success to today's forum as well as good health and fortune to you all. Thank you!