White House official praises Taiwan president in viral video

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger praised President Tsai Ing-wen in a video message recorded in front of the White House

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — White House Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger on Wednesday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen on her second term in office in a video message recorded in Chinese in front of the White House.

Speaking in fluent Chinese, the U.S. official also praised the Taiwanese people for their hard-won efforts to protect democracy and make their leaders do their jobs through free speech, rule of law and free and fair elections.

Taiwan shows the world that the spirit of democracy is not just American or Western, but universal, he said, before citing Chinese astrophysicist Fang Lizhi (方勵之) who said in the late 1980s: “I didn’t study Eastern physics, nor Western physics, but physics.”

Pottinger used the same analogy to explain that democracy is like physics; there is no such thing as different types of democracy.

White House Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger reacts during a video message recorded in Chinese in front of the White House played at the inauguration ceremony on May 20, 2020. (Courtesy of the Presidential Office)

Meanwhile, Pottinger praised Taiwan’s response to the coronavirus outbreak and said that Taiwan had learned important lessons from the SARS epidemic in 2003, and applied the experience accumulated before the outbreak.

Contrary to other countries, the closure of schools in Taiwan lasted for only two weeks, while the country has recorded fewer than 500 infections (mostly imported) out of a population of 23 million.

Pottinger said Taiwan has much to share with the world, and the U.S. will continue to interact with Taiwan and urge other countries and organizations, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), to put “saving human lives above any political consideration,” choosing the freedom of the people over governmental repression.

Pottinger further added: “We look forward to working closely with Taiwan and will embark on a wide range of economic, cultural, educational and security cooperation to embody our common interests and values through cooperation.”

A key official in the Trump administration, Pottinger was a Beijing and Hong Kong correspondent for Reuters and the Wall Street Journal.

He now serves as deputy national security adviser to the White House, and he is playing a key role in the Trump administration’s reorientation toward a more confrontational course with China.

The U.S. is dissatisfied with China’s mishandling of the epidemic which has resulted in a global pandemic. Tensions between the U.S. and China have continued to flare in recent weeks as Washington is reducing visas for Chinese journalists in the U.S. and freezing funds to the WHO.