Taiwan's president designates envoys to Forum 2000

2017/10/06 23:21:36
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy President Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉)

Taiwan Foundation for Democracy President Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉)

Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has designated Prospect Foundation Chairman Mark Chen (陳唐山) and Taiwan Foundation for Democracy President Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉) as her envoys to this year's Forum 2000 conference, which focuses on threats to democracy posed by authoritarian regimes.

En route to Prague, Czech Republic, where the conference will take place from Oct. 8 to 10, Chen will visit Switzerland to exchange views with Swiss parliamentarians and meet with Taiwanese compatriots in Austria.

Aside from taking part in forum panels, Hsu will also sit down with nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and leaders of think tanks in Prague and later in Brussels to exchange views on issues related to promoting democracy.

The annual Forum 2000 conference was created by former Czech president Vaclav Havel in 1996.

An ardent supporter of Taiwan, Havel had the foundation extend an invitation to the president of Taiwan to attend, and the practice has continued after his passing in 2011, but Taiwan's president has opted to appoint an envoy instead.

The theme of this year's conference is "Strengthening Democracy in Uncertain Times."

With many worried about the waning of democracy around the world, the forum will cover such issues as populist threats in Europe and the United States, rigged votes and undemocratic processes in Latin America, and the growing threats caused by authoritarianism in China and Russia.

China will be in the spotlight, as two panels have been set up to discuss the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, with one on the era of Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) characterized by the tightening of his regime's control and another on China's expansionist foreign policy under Xi.

In an interview with CNA on Friday, Hsu, a panelist of the session on China's foreign expansion, said China's expansionist policy targets not only Taiwan but the Asia-Pacific area, and the clout it has wielded to pursue strategic objectives has had a negative impact on still-fragile democracies in the region.

Hsu said he would address the erosion of democracy on a global scale, in part due to the growth in authoritarianism, while also looking at the issue from Taiwan's perspective by mentioning the challenges facing Taiwan.

Among the challenges, he said, were China's efforts to suppress the nation's international space, threaten Taiwan militarily, and undermine the human rights of Taiwanese citizens.

The rise of authoritarianism and emerging threats to democracy has heightened the sense of crisis among global democracy promoters, which makes global mechanisms such as the Forum 2000 conference aimed at "democracy renewal" significant, Hsu said.

In September, Hsu traveled to Washington to take part in the biennial event hosted by the Community of Democracy, an intergovernmental coalition involving governmental representatives and NGOs.

Hsu said that while democracy is threatened by despotic regimes, there has also been a continued increase in strength to safeguard democracy.

In the face of the threat, "Taiwan has to be part of the global democracy promotion campaign. This is the best strategy to defend democracy. There is no other alternative," Hsu said.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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