TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's former Vice President Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) on Saturday (Nov. 20) spoke before European ministers and U.S. Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya in Vilnius, Lithuania, pointing out the resemblance between the two countries both in the past and today.
"Some 30 years ago the two fought against authoritarian rule and today we speak up for democracy," he said.
Chen made his appearance at the high-profile "Future of Democracy" forum in Vilnius, Lithuania, which ran from Nov. 19-20. He delivered a speech on the second day of the forum at the invitation of Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s foreign minister.
In his speech, titled "Taiwan as a Litmus Case for Democracy," Chen spoke of a historical event known as "the Baltic Way" — a massive peaceful action on Aug. 23, 1989, during which over 1 million people joined hands to form a 690-kilometer human chain linking three Baltic states in protest of Soviet authoritarian rule. After seven months of a protest movement, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence, and Chen lauded it as a pioneer of the free Baltic states.
"Taiwan is today posing as a democracy fortress in the Indo-Pacific region against various threats from an authoritarian regime. On the other hand, it has successfully countered the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic due to its nature of governance transparency and its leveraging information technology in disease control," Chen noted.
"We are also partnering with like-minded democracies around the world to ensure global supply chain security and reduce the spread of misinformation that could sabotage as well as undermine democracy."
Chen continued, "Despite the expansion of authoritarianism and the accompanying threats, Taiwan is sticking to its own democratic way of life and is dedicated to making contributions to the world. At this point in time, we thank international society for speaking up against the authoritarian regime and against its political as well as economic coercion."
At the opening ceremony of the forum, Chen greeted Gabrielius Landsbergis and had a brief, amiable exchange with U.S. Under Secretary of State Uzra Zeya, according to a statement by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.