President Tsai Ing-wen. CNA photo Oct. 7, 2022

TAIPEI, 10 OCTOBER 2022 (CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY) —Taiwan is looking to play a “crucial” role in the development of the Indo-Pacific region in the post-COVID-19 era, President Tsai Ing-wen said Friday at the opening of the Yushan Forum in Taipei.

Taiwan can be “a crucial actor” in the Indo-Pacific region in the post-pandemic era by assisting in regional and global economic recovery and contributing to efforts to restructure supply chains, Tsai argued.

“While Taiwan stands on the frontline of authoritarian expansion, our resilient economy and industrial supply chain remains a vital part of the regional ecosystem,” she said.

Tsai pledged to place more emphasis on the government’s New Southbound Policy (NSP), an initiative launched by the Tsai administration in 2016 aimed at expanding Taiwan’s economic, cultural and political ties with Southeast Asia, South Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.

The NSP will be the Taiwan’s “pivotal regional policy for Asia” as it works to “bolster our security and economic ties with partners across the region,” Tsai said.

The government will actively integrate Taiwan’s capacity in high-tech industries with the existing NSP to promote “a digital New Southbound initiative,” she said.

According to the president, Taiwan’s enterprises have significantly increased their investment in the 18 countries targeted by the NSP over the past six years, with investment from Taiwan in those countries reaching US$2.2 billion between January and July this year.

In the first quarter of 2022, profits from investments in those 18 countries by listed Taiwanese companies surpassed profits from investment in China by those same companies for the first time, she said.

Also at the opening, former Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said in a pre-recorded video that he felt a sense of responsibility to further strengthen the relationship between Taiwan and Japan after the passing of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Abe, Japan’s long-serving prime minister, died on 08 July at the age of 67, hours after he was shot twice by a man with a makeshift shotgun on a street in the city of Nara, near Osaka, during an election rally. He served as prime minister from 2006-2007 and from 2012-2020 and was seen by some in Taiwan as a staunch supporter of the island.

Aso, who currently serves as vice president of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, also condemned Russia for “military aggression2 against Ukraine, saying that attempts to unilaterally change the status quo by force are “not permitted anywhere in the world.”

Japanese parliamentarian Keiji Furuya, meanwhile, said that like-minded countries should work together to prevent a “crisis” in the Taiwan Strait while expressing concern over China’s growing military pressure on Taiwan.

“No one benefits from such a move, and it will only damage the peace and stability of the region,” said Furuya, who serves as chairman of the Japan-ROC Diet Members’ Consultative Council, a 270-member parliamentarian group dedicated to promoting Japan-Taiwan relations.

Furuya said peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is important not only for Taiwan, where approximately 24,000 Japanese people currently live, but also for the international community.

“A contingency in Taiwan means a contingency for Japan, and a contingency for countries that share common values of freedom, democracy, the rule of law, and basic human rights,” he said.

The sixth edition of the Yushan Forum will feature speeches and panel discussions by former government officials, lawmakers, scholars, business leaders, and representatives of civil society groups from 12 countries, the event’s organiser, the Taiwan-Asia Exchange Foundation (TAEF), said.

Also attending the forum are Rose Gottemoeller, a former NATO deputy secretary-general and U.S undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, and Palauan President Surangel Whipps Jr., among others….PACNEWS

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