Remarks by Assistant Secretary Robert Destro at the Capstone Session of
the 2020 U.S.-Taiwan Consultations on Democratic Governance in the Indo-Pacific Region
October 28, 2020
(as prepared for delivery)
Good morning to our AIT and Ministry of Foreign Affairs colleagues in Taipei and to the civil society representatives on both sides of the Pacific. You are crucial partners in our work.
My visit to Taipei last month to attend President Lee Teng-hui’s state memorial service was a real opportunity to view first-hand and to appreciate the rapid and dramatic progress that Taiwan has made in democratization over the last three decades. Taiwan’s success in combatting the global pandemic is a living example of what a free people can do in the face of adversity. Taiwan has much to share with others in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
The Consultations on Democratic Governance we are concluding today represent a joint effort between the United States and Taiwan to further realize Taiwan’s potential contributions to the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms across the entire Indo-Pacific region. In partnership, we can more effectively promote responsive governance, empowered citizens, and strong regional institutions across the region.
As our Taiwan friends know all too well, a vibrant civil society is at the heart of a healthy democracy. I was really happy to hear personally from passionate activists, human rights defenders, and engaged citizens in Taipei. The phenomenal work you are doing throughout the region deserves our collective support and recognition.
I also want to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its willingness to facilitate the presence of international civil society organizations in Taiwan, including the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute, both of which join us today. These dynamic organizations will work closely with local civil society organizations to build upon and deepen existing efforts based on the values we share as free and democratic societies.
Your presence today is a strong indication that we are taking concrete actions to strengthen the ongoing partnership between the United States and Taiwan. It is a partnership in which we collaborate hand-in-hand with civil society to empower citizens to advocate for their fundamental freedoms around the region and beyond.
The activities of the many associations we know as civil society are essential components of our mutual efforts to promote shared values which will address human rights challenges across the region. As all of us know far too well from experience these include systematic mass detentions, grave abuses against ethnic and religious minorities, the repression of democratic freedoms, mass surveillance, and exorbitant levels of official corruption.
I have full confidence that our combined efforts and partnership with civil society will accelerate our shared vision for a more just, prosperous, and stable Indo-Pacific region.
And I thank you for your attention this morning and look forward to listening to the rest of the conversation. Thanks.