2013 Open Studio Series Creating a Democratic Alliance

Posted May 14, 2013 The DPP held one of its Open Studio Series on May 14 on the topic of foreign relations. The forum was hosted by Mr. Liu Shih-chung, DPP Department of International Affairs Director; Dr. Michael Hsiao, Director of the Institute of Sociology, Academia Sinica; Hsu Chien-szu, Associate Researcher, Institute of Political Science, Academia Sinica; Former Taiwan Representative to the EU Dr. Michael Kau and Dr. Joseph Wu, DPP Representative to Washington, D.C. and Policy Research Committee Executive Director. The topic of discussion involved the perspectives involved in establishing a democratic alliance in Asia. Remarks by Chair Su Tseng-chang: In my February trip to Japan, I raised the concept of a democratic alliance with governing and opposition parties and think tanks in Japan, for which we received wide recognition from the Japanese side. The majority in Japan agreed that the East China Sea’s Diaoyutai Islands has been, compared to other areas, relatively peaceful as a result of democratic countries identifying with similar values. Even though Taiwan and Japan both have sovereignty claims over these islands, finding regional stability and peace has represented the maximum value for the interests of both countries. It is imperative that disputes over the Diaoyutais be resolved through peaceful dialogue and negotiation so that we can avoid a third party to interfere and to influence the long-term stability of the East China Sea region. From a long-term perspective, Taiwan, Japan, the U.S. and South Korea are all countries with similar values, which is why a democratic alliance should be formed. The democratic alliance can collectively preserve so-called values and interests, ensuring regional peace at the same time. In these past months, the many visitors to the DPP, including U.S. government officials, representatives from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and members of the U.S. Congress, have all expressed their
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recognition towards the concept of a democratic alliance. I believe, seeing the powerlessness of the government in their actions, the public and civic society must exert greater power. In these past years, the government’s attitude towards handling foreign relations has been different from the past without a unanimous position and creating doubts among countries that share similar values with Taiwan, and this is absolutely unfavorable towards Taiwan. The concept of a democratic alliance is not to get together to create an enemy or target anyone, especially not returning to the ways of the former Cold War period. On the contrary, this is to create an alliance of values, of cooperation and of progress. Besides the regular interaction between civic society, NGOs should also be integrated, and with this kind of close exchange, dialogue and cooperation will develop an even greater force. President Ma Ying-jeou in the past has made different actions, causing external suspicions on whether the cross straits have hand-in-hand joined to protect the Diaoyutai Islands. This has created problems between Taiwan and Japan. Only after President Ma declared and assured that the cross straits will not hand-in-hand join to protect the Diaoyutai Islands, Japan agreed to sign with Taiwan a fishery rights agreement, and we believe this is very good development. Remarks by Dr. Michael Hsiao: The third wave of democratization has created the challenges we face today, which involve the regression of democracy, counterattacks by authoritarianism, democratic countries compromising on the despotic behavior of authoritarian countries, all of which have weakened democracy and human rights. The 2013 report by Freedom House stated that the world was facing a danger of a regression in democracy. Democracy and freedom must be self-reliant, and only through persisting in the value of democracy through an alliance relationship can it be sustained. Taiwan must build a democratic alliance based on democracy, human rights, sovereignty and peace as an external policy as well as a guiding principle for its cross strait policy in order to protect Taiwan’s democratic system, lifestyle and its most important asset. Remarks by Dr. Hsu Chien-szu: To interpret the democratic alliance as containment, just as it was employed during the Cold War period, is not accurate at all. The democratic alliance is a coalition of values and is to be exercised by civic society, and it is also a matter of “who wants to help who” instead of “who should contain who”. The topic of interests in a democratic alliance should be about helping each other and to promote democracy.

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Remarks by Dr. Michael Kau: Contrary to the negative form of the diplomatic true, the democratic alliance is a positive and active form of foreign policy. As opposed to President Ma’s Administration alliance with China, which is a foreign policy of short-term benefits, the democratic alliance is a new strategy both sustainable and innovative. A successful example is when the DPP in government established the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy. Taiwan must use in good faith the soft power granted by our democratic development. It must use the values of democracy, human rights and rule of law to develop deep relationships with other democracies such as the U.S., Japan and the EU. Remarks by Dr. Joseph Wu: President Ma’s foreign policy lacks core values or the persistence in democracy and human rights. This has caused Taiwan’s foreign policy loose its direction and making our country easily vulnerable. In a democratic alliance, the core purpose lies on cooperation between democratic countries, including assisting those countries that do not have complete freedom, democracy and human rights. To promote a democratic alliance is to ensure that the region has information flowing mechanisms that can let people know that they have the right to freedom of political choice and religion.

Note by editor: These remarks are translated from a press statement, and not presented in full as delivered at the conference.

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