August 31, 2021
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Prospect Foundation held the Ketagalan Forum—2021 Asia-Pacific Security Dialogue on August 31. The forum, this year conducted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, saw political figures, scholars, and experts from various nations engage in in-depth discussion on a range of security issues in the postpandemic era, including Taiwan Strait developments, the prospects for the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), gray zone coercion, and the building of trusted supply chains.
In her prerecorded opening address to the forum, President Tsai Ing-wen pointed out that with authoritarian regimes’ increased assertiveness in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Taiwan can become a key force in the advancement of regional peace and prosperity as democracies seek to defend their shared values and systems. President Tsai emphasized that with the revival of QUAD and implantation of the EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy, Taiwan is well positioned to serve as an indispensable partner in such areas as democratic renewal, renewable energy, and the semiconductor industry. She said that Taiwan is willing to shoulder its share of the burden of ensuring regional stability and hopes to maintain a peaceful, stable, and mutually beneficial coexistence with its neighbors while resolutely defending democracy and its people’s way of life. She also spoke about Taiwan’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and its assistance to and cooperation with countries around the world, which have demonstrated the crucial role that Taiwan can play and why Taiwan matters.
Ambassador Kelly Craft, former United States Permanent Representative to the United Nations and keynote speaker at the forum, expressed her personal friendship and support for Taiwan. She said that the Biden administration, as with the Trump administration before it, attaches great importance to Taiwan, and that during her tenure as Permanent Representative to the UN, she had worked to prevent the UN’s systemic discrimination of democratic Taiwan. Ambassador Craft also criticized China’s government for taking advantage of the situation in Afghanistan to undermine Taiwan’s trust in the United States’ security commitments, stressing that “If Taiwan is lost, we lose too.” Affirming President Tsai’s commitment to democracy and good governance, Ambassador Craft said that Taiwan’s unique experience of interacting with China can be provided for QUAD’s reference, and expressed her hope that Taiwan could become a member of QUAD+.
In responding to Ambassador Craft, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tien Chung-kwang cited a well-known quote by Benjamin Franklin—“Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety”—to show Taiwan’s determination to defend itself. During the closing ceremony, he also underlined Taiwan’s strategic role in safeguarding democratic values, protecting security in the Indo-Pacific, and restructuring global supply chains, saying that Taiwan’s continuing organization of the Ketagalan Forum demonstrates that it is using multilateral dialogue to play a role as an active and reliable partner in the Indo-Pacific.
The forum featured four panels focusing on regional security issues, entitled “Taiwan Strait Contingency and the Challenge to the Indo-Pacific Liberal Order”; “Sailing through Troubled Waters: How Quad and Quad+ Are Meeting the Challenges of the Indo-Pacific”; “Responses to Gray Zone Coercion in the East and South China Seas”; and “Assessing the Post-Covid-19 Economic Outlook: Reconfiguring Globalization and Building Trusted Supply Chains.” Sixteen officials or former officials and experts from the US, Japan, France, Australia, India, Singapore, the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, and the Philippines took part in online panels, addressing these issues through in-depth discussion and offering constructive ideas and recommendations. Panelists included Randall Schriver, Chairman of the Project 2049 Institute; Makishima Karen, Member of the Japanese House of Representatives; Peter Jennings, Executive Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute; Hyun Oh-seok, former Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea; and Bert Hofman, Director of the East Asia Institute of the National University of Singapore. The forum was a great success, with more than 1,000 people watching and participating in this year’s event via a number of online platforms.