TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) called on like-minded countries to build a "democratic supply chain" for the post-pandemic era in a keynote speech at a conference in Bratislava on Tuesday (Oct. 26).
The event, hosted by Slovakian think tank GLOBSEC, centered on the theme of "Resilience in a post-pandemic world,” according to a CNA report.
"I believe that through working together with trustworthy, like-minded partners who share the good faith in free and fair competition, transparency, and market economy, our newly reorganized democratic supply chain would be more resilient than ever," he said.
Slovakia and Taiwan have helped one another at different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the virus first broke out, Slovakia was one of a number of countries to receive donations of medical supplies from Taiwan, including tens of thousands of surgical masks. Slovakia later gifted Taiwan with 160,000 vaccine doses when the country was failing to secure adequate supplies.
Wu said Taiwan was truly grateful for Slovakia’s support. "On behalf of the people of Taiwan, I want to say that we are all deeply touched seeing such a virtuous cycle being established, and Taiwan will continue to contribute whatever we can, whenever we can," Wu said.
The fight against the pandemic is not over though, and shortages in key industries like the automotive industry require joint solutions, Wu added. Taiwan and Slovakia both have much to gain from increased cooperation on trade, investment, and industrial linkages, especially since Taiwan is a key node in the global supply of intermediate goods and auto parts, he said.
In related news, supply chain resilience in the electric vehicle sector is a topic that Taiwanese heads of industry are speaking on this week at the Indo-Pacific Business Forum.
Wu was also keen to emphasize the need for strong democratic institutions while shoring up post-pandemic resilience.
The "alarming increase of military exercises, hybrid and cognitive warfare operations" launched by China against Taiwan has "put our democracy under acute threat," Wu said.
"However, we are not afraid, and Taiwan is not alone," he added, alluding to examples of bilateral collaboration between Taiwan and Slovakia.
"We are friends and we are democracies. We support each other enthusiastically, we trade with each other freely, and we cooperate and contribute however we can wholeheartedly when the other is in need of assistance," he said.
Wu is currently touring Europe and has plans to visit the Czech Republic and Belgium after departing Slovakia. He will also speak virtually at a conference in Rome on Friday (Oct. 29) organized by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.
It is rare for Taiwan’s foreign minister to visit multiple countries with which Taiwan has no official diplomatic relations. China usually pressures host countries to prevent such visits from happening.
The last time Wu went to Europe on a public schedule was in 2019, when he spoke at the Copenhagen Democracy Summit in Denmark.