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President Tsai attends opening of 2023 Taipei Security Dialogue (excerpt: cross-strait relations)

  • Date:2023-11-08

Taiwan has, in particular, been challenged by increasingly frequent incursions into our ADIZ and military exercises in our vicinity. We have also had to face economic coercion and persistent cyberattacks. Taken as a whole, these hybrid tactics are designed to deplete Taiwanese people's confidence in our democracy, and to undermine our resolve to defend ourselves. 

But despite such challenges, we have been encouraged by the many statements of support for regional peace and stability from the international community. 

Following their summit in Hiroshima this past May, the leaders of the G7 released a communiqué, which reaffirmed "the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait as indispensable to security and prosperity in the international community." And just last month, during a state visit to the United States, Australian Prime Minister [Anthony] Albanese joined President [Joe] Biden in expressing their opposition to unilateral changes in the cross-strait status quo. Their example follows that of many other world leaders who have voiced their concerns over the security of our region.

The people of Taiwan are determined to protect our own hard-earned freedoms and democracy. Our priority is, therefore, to enhance our self-defense capabilities and social resilience. Over the past year, we reinstated one-year mandatory military service, provided conscripts with more realistic training, and reorganized our force structure to ensure that our servicemen and women can meet the challenges of modern warfare. Our national defense budget has also continued to rise for eight consecutive years, with a 7.7 percent year-on-year growth rate, and will account for nearly 2.5 percent of GDP in 2024. 

This past September, Taiwan's first indigenous submarine prototype was launched, representing a key milestone in our naval vessel production program which was deemed too ambitious to many. All these achievements are testament to our unwavering resolve to defend our country.

In addition to building combat capabilities, Taiwan also has had to fight against non-conventional threats. Authoritarian actors' cognitive warfare, in the forms of mis- and/or disinformation, attempt to exploit and drive polarization in our free and democratic society.

As a democracy, Taiwan's response to disinformation is consistent with democratic principles. We equip our people with the knowledge and tools to refute and report false and misleading information, so as to maintain a careful balance between sustaining the free flow of information and denying information manipulation. 

Our government provides real-time clarification of disinformation to the public, and shares our expertise with international partners. And our civil society organizations have stepped up to provide media literacy training, detailed reports on disinformation, and innovative fact-checking tools.

We are also enhancing the resilience of our society by refining reserve training and civil defense. Aside from assisting in military operations, Taiwan's civil defense system provides support with tasks necessary to ensure the continued functioning of society.

We are taking a comprehensive approach to advancing multi-layered deterrence and self-sufficiency in national defense. The Taiwanese people recognize the importance of safeguarding our homeland, not only to ourselves, but also to our neighbors and partners.

It bears reminding that Taiwan's security is tied to the security of the Indo-Pacific and the world. As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan will continue working to maintain regional peace and stability, while expanding and deepening our partnerships with other stakeholders. Taiwan has proven that it is a secure and reliable partner with a deep commitment to democracy.