Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue gets underway in Taipei

Inaugural Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue kicked off Aug. 8 in Taipei City

President Tsai Ing-wen delivers her opening address at the inaugural Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue Aug. 8 in Taipei City. (Taiwan Today)

The inaugural Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue kicked off Aug. 8 in Taipei City, bringing together around 30 senior officials, experts and scholars from across the region to discuss issues related to maritime capacity building and cooperation, security and regional economic integration.
 
During the event’s opening, President Tsai Ing-wen said given Taiwan’s central geographic location, it will always have a role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific and remains committed to this responsibility as a member of the global community.
 
This approach reflects the importance of democracy, freedom and the rule of law in Taiwan, Tsai said, adding that it is also based on the reality that growth and prosperity cannot take place in an unstable and insecure region.
 
According to the president, Taiwan must play an even more active role in an interconnected world. It cannot sit idly on the sidelines while other nations across the region increasingly look toward each other to build stronger ties, she said.
 
As part of the government’s response to this challenge, it has rolled out a number of farsighted initiatives such as the New Southbound Policy, Tsai said. In keeping with the policy, Taiwan has expanded its capacity to cultivate the human resources needed to work with the countries targeted under the initiative, she added.
 
It is also willing to provide know-how to help these countries take advantage of new market opportunities, Tsai said, citing policies and measures aimed at cementing people-to-people exchanges.
 
At the same time, Taiwan continues to focus on enhancing relations with the U.S., Japan and other likeminded countries across a broad spectrum of areas of mutual interest. In particular, the nation remains committed to promoting trade and investment through bilateral and multilateral arrangements, with the Trans-Pacific Partnership one of its priorities, according to the president.
 
Regarding regional security, Tsai said Taiwan stands ready to share its resources if the good order of the Asia-Pacific is threatened. She identified recent examples like the government helping implement economic sanctions on North Korea and stepping up investigations into shipments and money laundering involving the Northeast Asian country.
 
The role of Taiping Island—the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha (Spratlys) Islands in the South China Sea—is another one, the president said. The use of Taiping Island by Taiwan for research and humanitarian purposes also underscores the government’s commitment to resolving regional disputes and continuing to safeguard freedom of navigation and overflight in the area.
 
In terms of cross-strait relations, Tsai said the government is fully committed to maintaining the status quo and acknowledges the interest of the global community, as well as both sides of the Taiwan Strait, in peaceful and stable cross-strait relations.
 
But this cannot be achieved by just one side alone as it takes goodwill and cooperation by both sides, the president said. She called for Taiwan and mainland China to develop a new model of interaction benefitting the stability and prosperity of both sides and the region as a whole.
 
Organized by Taipei-headquartered nonprofit think tank Prospect Foundation, the one-day seminar also featured a keynote speech by former U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney, as well as a special roundtable on the prospects and challenges of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy.