Chairman Lo of the Taiwan National Security Institute, Former Japan’s Defense Minister Professor Mr. Morimoto, my dear old friend Mr. Yates, distinguished international and domestic guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning!
It is my greatest pleasure today to participate in this year’s international conference organized by the Taiwan National Security Institute. During last year’s conference, we discussed the challenges faced in national security with the rise of China. This year’s topic discusses China’s rise and the formation of partnership between democratic countries, seeking to form peace and stability mechanisms in the Asia Pacific region. I’d like to pay my highest respects to this organization for their strategic thinking and arrangement of this conference.
Challenges to Asia Pacific’s political and economic order
During the past year, we witnessed a great transformation in the political and economic situation of Asia Pacific, which vastly influenced the region’s restructuring order in national security, peace and prosperity. As soon as U.S. President Barrack Obama was successfully reelected, he made his fifth trip to Asia, including his first-ever visit to the country of Myanmar, and with his new national security team, they reiterated that the policy of rebalance towards Asia remained unchanged. In Japan, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party won both houses of the National Diet, ending the previous “twisted Diet” and promoting an era of Abenomics, which was meant to rebuild Japan’s leading role in Asia Pacific. Furthermore, both U.S. and Japan leaders re-affirmed the importance of the U.S.-Japan security alliance. The Korean people created history for the first time by electing Mrs. Park Geun-hye as its first female president. China completed its leadership transition with Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang formally inaugurating the Xi-Li administration. While China domestically faced the challenges of a slowing economy and financial growth, issues in its social system, and other issues, they externally launched the new type of great power relationship, and in June, the Obama-Xi meeting took place in California. Naturally, we cannot overlook India’s look-East foreign policy and the ensuing developments between the four countries of China, U.S. India and Japan.
In terms of the challenges faced by each individual region, the North Korean regime of Kim Jong-un has created security challenges in Northeast Asia, requiring the establishment of international checks and balances through consultation and cooperation between nations. Taiwan-Japan disputes in the East China Sea and the Diaoyutai Islands have been provisionally resolved through the signing of a fishery agreement, but China’s relationship with Japan continues to be lauded with uncertainties. The stalemate from sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea is based on the differences between the parties involved, generating the need to jointly establish codes of conducts to maintain navigation freedom. The U.S. is actively promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and in July, Japan formally became the twelfth country to join the TPP negotiations. In the future, the competing nature of TPP and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) of ASEAN+6 will test the openness of each country’s foreign trade policy.
In all these developments mentioned above, they include the dimensions of diplomacy, military, security, economic, political and social circumstances of each country. They contribute to the complexity of restructuring challenges faced by Asia Pacific, not only testing the wisdom of its leaders, but also creating the necessity of a mature and stable institution.
Building an Asian-Pacific Democratic Alliance
This year in February, just when the dispute of the Diaoyutai Islands incited tensions between Japan and China and challenged the U.S.-Japan security alliance, I led a Democratic Progressive Party delegation to Tokyo. Besides meeting important leaders from the Liberal Democratic Party, we also met with more than 60 members of the National Diet across party lines. Everyone expressed concerns over the Diaoyutai Islands dispute and the inclination of Taiwan towards China, which endangered Japan’s lifeline of energy imports and exports. Along with Japan’s leaders whether in power or in opposition, I believed that even though Taiwan and Japan had firm standpoints on the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands, maintaining peace and stability in the region was in both sides’ common interests, and it was imperative to complete the signing of a fishery agreement to avoid further deterioration in the East China Sea.
Soon after my Japan visit, Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou at last declared that the cross straits would not jointly protect the Diaoyutai Islands, and in April, the Taiwan-Japan fishery agreement was signed. The initial impression given by the Ma administration allowed Beijing to opportunistically create an appearance of a cross strait cooperation to protect the islands and stand against Japan, which not only affected Taiwan-Japan relations, but also creating the possibility of dragging the U.S. into the dispute. The DPP welcomes President Ma’s administration take of a clear stand, yet the DPP administration in the past was already committed to a Taiwan-Japan fishery agreement, and these developments are all consistent to the messages I gave to our Japanese friends.
During my visit to Japan, I also raised the issue of creating a democratic alliance, which echoes the theme of this conference calling for partnerships between Asian democratic countries. In view of the unpredictability in the Asia Pacific, I believe that based on the common beliefs of democracy, freedom and human rights, a democratic alliance between the U.S., Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India and South Asia will assist to maintain regional security and prosperity. Our democratic alliance should neither resemble the kind of thinking during the Cold War nor it should mean that we are containing any country, but rather, it is a return to our most basic and common values, which are rightly so: democracy, using dialogue to substitute confrontation, peace to resolve conflict and most importantly, exercise democracy to determine our future.
Taiwan as a regional order facilitator
In June of this year, I visited Washington, D.C. and met with President Obama’s administration officials in Asian Pacific affairs. I also spoke at the joint-event organized by the Brookings Institution and the Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). In my address, I spoke about the three “Rs” - responsibility, reconciliation and rebalance - reiterating the DPP’s commitment to prepare for the ability to govern again and become responsible for the future of Taiwan’s reconstruction, proposing to reconciliation and dialogue as a means to normalize cross strait relations and regional peace. I appealed to the U.S., in their mapping of the return to Asia, to also rebalance U.S.-Taiwan relations so that Taiwan can become an important puzzle piece in their rebalancing blueprint.
I believe that Taiwan should not sit silently as a spectator, but it should play an active and constructive role as a regional order facilitator. Maintaining the peaceful and stable development of cross strait relations is certainly in line with international expectations, however, they should never come at the price of Taiwan’s sovereignty and democratic freedom. Democracy is Taiwan’s greatest asset, and it is also the common language it speaks with democratic countries in the region, and better yet, Taiwan is a driving force to push non-democratic countries towards reform and to urge them to respect the international norms. We urge North Korea to accept the resolution by international institutions and abandon nuclear weapons. We look forward to China’s rise with the hope that they can properly handle their internal problems, assume greater international responsibilities and respect the free will of the Taiwanese people.
China has yet to renounce the threat to use force to resolve the Taiwan issue. On one side, Taiwan must strive to normalize cross strait relations, and on another, it must strengthen its self-defense capabilities. Recently, we have gone through the scandal of the unfortunate death of army conscript Mr. Hong Chong-chiu. Two defense ministers resigned within the period of one week, striking a serious blow of confidence and morale as well as hurting the public’s trust in our military, all of which are very regrettable. In addition, President Ma’s administration has failed to implement the commitment to allocate 3% of our GDP to the annual defense budget, further exposing Taiwan’s defense crisis and enlarging the gap of Taiwan in regional peace and security in Asia Pacific.
As early as June, being a responsible opposition party, the DPP issued the Defense Policy Bluebook, in which it called to stick to the past administration’s commitment of 3% of our GDP to the annual defense budget; seriously raising military morale, the trust of the public and our partners - all as part of the strategic reassurances to countries including the U.S. and Japan.
Good governance with peace and prosperity
Dear ladies and gentlemen, the DPP has conducted open-minded reviews of the past administration’s domestic and foreign policies in its preparation for future governance. We had great support from the majority of the Taiwanese public in the past, and our approval rating is steadily surpassing that of the KMT. The localities in which the DPP exerts administrative control have received wide recognition by the Taiwanese public. We will march forward to regain power with vigor, confidence and responsibility.
With the greater expectations of the Taiwanese people towards the DPP, we must strengthen even more our capabilities and commitment to good governance. In regards to the concerns of the international community towards the DPP, we have in the past year, demonstrated with practical actions our commitments to our regional partners. The DPP will adopt responsible and strategic policies to ensure that cross strait peace and regional prosperity continues after the DPP returns to power.
Lastly, I would like to offer my greatest appreciation to the organizers of this conference. Thank You!