Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) The first ever U.S.-Taiwan Consultations on Democratic Governance in the Indo-Pacific Region were launched in Taipei on Thursday.
The annual forum is expected to serve as a mechanism to promote Taiwan's international presence and good governance in the region.
The launch ceremony was held at the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) in Neihu District, Taipei and attended by AIT Director Brent Christensen, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Scott Busby, Taiwan's Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), and dignitaries from other countries.
The Consultations were announced in March by Christensen and Wu at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) after Busby raised the idea during his Taipei visit last October.
Christensen said in his opening statement that the mechanism is designed to formalize, regularize, and deepen cooperation between the United States and Taiwan on good governance issues.
"This forum will be held annually going forward, serving as the primary platform for pursuing joint U.S.-Taiwan projects in the region that assist other countries in addressing the governance challenges of the day," Christensen said.
The inaugural session of the consultations will tackle concrete ways to fully incorporate Taiwan into the U.S. Indo-Pacific Transparency Initiative, which harnesses in excess of US$400 million, and promote Taiwan as a model of good governance for the entire region, he said.
Busby, who represented the U.S. delegation in the first consultations, commended Taiwan for its transition from martial law to rule of law and from single-party governance to multi-party democracy in a relatively short span of time without a coup or turmoil.
Busby lauded Taiwan as one of the best models of governance in the region and a model for others to emulate, while criticizing China as a "repressive, authoritarian regime" that threatens freedom and democracy.
Meanwhile, Wu said Taiwan can be a reliable partner in strengthening good governance, ensuring free elections, supporting youth leaders and female empowerment, countering disinformation, and promoting human rights.
Wu also slammed Beijing for its military pressure, influence operations and disinformation campaign that seeks to undermine Taiwan's democracy and belittle Taiwan as a role model for people in Hong Kong and China to emulate.
At the ceremony, Wu donated US$200,000 to the U.S. initiated International Religious Freedom Fund (I-ReFF) on behalf of Taiwan's government, the first installment of its pledge to donate US$1 million made in March.
Taiwan's delegation for this year's consultation is led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hsu Szu-chien (徐斯儉).
Other goals of the Consultations are to promote a free and open Indo-Pacific and Taiwan's international presence, according to a AIT press release.
"While Taiwan's formal diplomatic space may be constrained, the Consultations can utilize Taiwan-based and international NGOs, the private sector, and academia to enable Taiwan to expand its international presence and amplify its contribution to global problem solving," the press statement said.