Tuesday, September 11, 2007

US President Bush Lauds Taiwan’s Democratic Development at the APEC

After Washington kept expressing its opposition to Taiwan’s UN bid referendum, US President George W. Bush addressed that Taiwan should be regarded as leading US defense partner and an example of democratic development that China could follow and as a leading US defense partner.

At a business summit of the APEC meeting last Thursday, President Bush further added that the US’ relationship with Taiwan, along with other nations in the region, forms “the bedrock of America’s engagement in Asia-Pacific.”

In his speech aiming at promoting greater democracy, freedom and prosperity in the region, Bush also praised that Taiwan’s emergence as a democratic society could urge China to “show confidence by demonstrating a commitment to greater openness and tolerance.”

Moreover, Bush mentioned that the US alliances with Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, and its defense relationships with Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and other countries in the region have formed the bedrock of US’ engagement in the Asia-Pacific.

In his view, the aforesaid security relationships have helped maintain the peace in this region, and they also have created conditions allowing freedom and democracy to expand, markets to grow, and commerce to flow.

Bush then termed Taiwan’s evolution into a democracy, “one of the great stories of our time.”

Noting that at the end of World War II, Australia and New Zealand were the only democracies in Asia, Bush said: “Since then, we have witnessed Japan’s transformation into a thriving free society, the triumph of democracy in the Philippines [and] democratic transitions in Taiwan, South Korea and Indonesia.”

He also said the US will encourage China to open up its political system and give greater voice to its people. Bush pointed out the US relationships with South Korea and Taiwan during the Cold War period had already proved that it is possible to maintain friendships while pushing toward democracy.

Additionally, in the speech, Bush proposed a new “Asia Pacific Democracy Partnership,” in which free nations aim to work together to support democratic values , to strengthen democratic institutions and to assist those who are working to build and sustain free societies across the Asia-Pacific region.

Commenting on Bush’s speech, Dr. Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), a research fellow at the Chinese Taipei APEC Study Center, said: “Through the speech, Bush warned China in a highly skillful way.”

Dr. Chiang pointed out that by emphasizing democracy at the beginning of the speech, Bush actually expressed the US’ position that it would not compromise democracy and would try to block China’s rise with the US democratic allies. Moreover, by saying one of the best ways to strengthen freedom and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region is through the expansion of trade and investment, Bush was indicating free trade should be established on democracy, Chiang stressed.

(Excerpts from Taipei Times)

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