DENVER (CNA) — President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on July 19 told a large gathering of Taiwanese expatriates in Denver that Taiwan will not succumb to pressure and will continue to safeguard its freedom, democracy and sovereignty.
“Many of you here today are concerned about Taiwan’s future,” Tsai said, addressing the 700-plus Taiwanese guests at a banquet held in her honor during her stopover in Denver on the return leg of her visit to Taiwan’s four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.
Many people are anxious because China is perceived as closing in on Taiwan and has resorted to a carrot-and-stick approach to pressure Taiwan’s 23 million people into accepting its “one country, two systems” model, Tsai said.
Those feelings of anxiety have been intensified by the sight of Hong Kong gradually losing its freedoms and democracy, she said, speaking mostly in English with a mixture of Mandarin and Taiwanese thrown in.
“That made us worried about if Taiwan’s sovereignty and democracy would also disappear one day,” Tsai said at the banquet, which was also attended by American Institute in Taiwan Chairman James Moriarty, Colorado Governor Jared Polis, U.S. Senator Cory Gardner and U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn.
She was referring to the situation in Hong Kong where protests have erupted in recent months since the government put forward a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed authorities there to extradite crime suspects not just to Taiwan and Macau, but also to China, where the legal system is seen as capricious at best.
Although the Hong Kong government has “indefinitely suspended” the bill, fears persist among the people there that they would lose their freedoms and human rights under China’s “one country, two systems” framework that is in effect in Hong Kong.
Tsai said China’s suppression of Taiwan was evident throughout her current trip and included several protests lodged with the U.S. government. It has also manifested in the form of information warfare, or disinformation, that has been used to infiltrate Taiwanese society, she said.
“2020 is a critical moment for (us) to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy,” Tsai said, urging Taiwanese expats to return home next year to vote.
Solidarity is needed in the fight to safeguard Taiwan’s democracy and way of life for future generations, she said. “United we stand, divided we fall,” Tsai told the hundreds of Taiwanese who came to Denver from other cities across the U.S. to attend the banquet.
The banquet was held hours after Tsai and her delegation arrived Friday afternoon in Denver, on the last leg on her 12-day overseas visit, which included a stopover in New York City en route to Taiwan’s four diplomatic allies in the Caribbean.
By Stacy Hsu, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Lin Hung-han