Former Australian PM meets Taiwan President to express support for a democracy challenged by giant neighbor

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen met with former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott, and expressed her gratitude for his help in negotiating an economic cooperation agreement between Australia and Taiwan, and his support for Taiwan’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Tony Abbott, who served as Australian Prime Minister from 2013 to 2015, responded that he was in Taiwan to help end its international isolation, and offered his support to a democratic country challenged by a “giant neighbor.”

“It is in large measure to try to help to end this isolation from which Taiwan has been suffering for so many decades that I am here in this country, and I do hope that this will be the first of many visits,” Abbott said.

Abbott cited Taiwan as a model for the world, and especially for the region, having transformed from an authoritarian country to a thriving, pluralistic democracy, showing others in the region it is possible to be both rich and free.

“Of course not everyone and not everywhere is pleased at Taiwan’s progress, and I do note that Taiwan is challenged on an almost daily basis by its giant neighbor,” Abbott said.

President Tsai said that Taiwan and Australia have always been very important trading partners. In the past five years, the bilateral trade volume between Taiwan and Australia has continued to grow at a rate of 10% each year.

Recently, Taiwan has formally applied to join the CPTPP and hopes to continue to strengthen Economic and trade links between Taiwan and Australia, and Taiwan and the world, Tsai said.

President Tsai also mentioned that the Australian government is actively responding to, and adjusting its strategies to the geopolitical changes in the Indo-Pacific region.

Australia has also continued to deepen the four-party security dialogue and cooperation with the United States, Japan, and India, and that during the talks, they shared concerns about Taiwan’s issues, Tsai said.

In the course of this year, the Australian government has publicly supported Taiwan in expanding its international space on many occasions in the international arena, while emphasizing the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

“We are willing to contribute to the continuous maintenance of regional peace and stability, and to have in-depth cooperation with all democratic partners,” President Tsai said.

On a more personal note, President Tsai said that she knows that Abbott loves outdoor sports very much, and Taiwan’s natural landscape is very suitable for mountain hiking and bicycle tourism.

“I hope you will visit again in the future to experience Taiwan’s beauty and vitality,” Tsai said.

Abbott said that he is very much looking forward to his next visit, so he can enjoy the scenery and food of Taiwan. He tugged at his mask and said, “I believe we won’t have to wear masks anymore at that time.”

Picture from Presidential Office Facebook account.
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