It is my sincere pleasure to represent the United States delegation at the first U.S.-Taiwan Consultations on Democratic Governance in the Indo-Pacific Region.

Over the years, our shared values have continuously brought the peoples of the United States and Taiwan together. We continue to cherish our unique relationship and shared commitment to democratic values, the rule of law, and human rights.

As we stand here together in an open and democratic land, we recognize that freedom is never guaranteed and requires constant nurturing.  This is all the more true given that not far away, across the Taiwan Strait, lies a repressive, authoritarian regime that threatens these liberties we hold dear.

The United States now seeks to work even more closely with our long-standing friends in Taiwan to ensure that the free remain free.  We additionally seek to work together to support those denied the full measure of freedom in the Indo-Pacific region.

I believe that Taiwan offers one of the best models of governance in the region for others to emulate.  In a relatively short span of time, the Taiwan people transitioned from martial law to rule of law.  From single-party governance to multi-party democracy.  You did so without a coup, without a violent revolution, and without turmoil.

Change in Taiwan came by the ballet box, from the people. This transition has built Taiwan into a unique success story, and today we elevate the important work of bringing this experience to others.  I am sure it will resonate with neighbors who seek a similar path to democracy and freedom.

The Consultations we launch today are intended to develop and pursue joint projects in the region that assist other countries in bolstering democratic values under the Indo-Pacific Transparency Initiative.  This initiative is the cornerstone of the governance pillar of our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Through this Initiative, the United States is working to promote civil society, the rule of law, and transparent and accountable governments across the region – these are the building blocks of progress and the bulwarks of peace.

Our approach to programming under the Transparency Initiative prioritizes anti-corruption and fiscal transparency, democracy assistance, youth and emerging leader development, media and internet freedom, and fundamental freedoms and human rights.

We recognize Taiwan’s valuable work in these areas, and the potential for Taiwan to offer insight and assistance to others seeking to move beyond authoritarian rule.  In partnership, we can more effectively promote responsive governments, empowered citizens, and strong regional institutions across the Indo-Pacific.

Our focus on governance is not only driven by a strong belief in our values.  It also pragmatically strengthens the economic pillar of our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.  We will continue to work with Indo-Pacific nations to foster the conditions needed to attract greater private investment to the region.

Weak institutions, corruption, and poor human rights conditions drive away smart private sector investment.  The Transparency Initiative will help Indo-Pacific nations attract more of the private capital that can help meet the region’s development needs.

We recognize the enormous challenges the region faces.  They include the systematic mass detentions, expulsions, and other serious abuses against ethnic and religious minorities, the repression of democratic freedoms, mass surveillance, astronomical levels of official corruption, and the extensive migrant trafficking networks.

The United States hopes these consultations will increase regional cooperation to remedy those societal ills and provide a clear, preferable alternative to authoritarianism.  Democracy is the only system that can safeguard and protect the civil rights and liberties of citizens and increase transparency and accountability.

Democracy is also a vehicle for solving problems peacefully, and building enduring prosperity.  Democracy allows societies to benefit from the full energy and talent of its citizens.

Over the long-run, democracies are also less likely to go to war, less corrupt, and wealthier than non-democracies.

Together, with Taiwan and our other friends and allies, we will promote freedom to assure a peaceful and thriving Indo-Pacific.

In so doing we seek to promote Taiwan’s democratic model.  I firmly believe that Taiwan’s global footprint should be commensurate with its impressive democracy.  It is a beacon for others to follow.

As you can see, I am enthusiastic about the prospects for this partnership. I keenly look forward to today’s discussion with both Taiwan leadership and civil society.

Shay-shay (Thank you)

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future