Taiwan and the Fight for Democracy
By Tsai Ing-wen
November/December Issue 2021
The story of Taiwan is one of resilience—of a country upholding democratic, progressive values while facing a constant challenge to its existence. Our success is a testament to what a determined practitioner of democracy, characterized by good governance and transparency, can achieve.
Yet the story of Taiwan is not only about the maintenance of our own democratic way of life. It is also about the strength and sense of responsibility Taiwan brings to efforts to safeguard the stability of the region and the world. Through hard work and courage, the 23.5 million people of Taiwan have succeeded in making a place for themselves in the international community.
Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, authoritarian regimes are more convinced than ever that their model of governance is better adapted than democracy to the requirements of the twenty-first century. This has fueled a contest of ideologies, and Taiwan lies at the intersection of contending systems. Vibrantly democratic and Western, yet influenced by a Chinese civilization and shaped by Asian traditions, Taiwan, by virtue of both its very existence and its continued prosperity, represents at once an affront to the narrative and an impediment to the regional ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party.
Taiwan’s refusal to give up, its persistent embrace of democracy, and its commitment to act as a responsible stakeholder (even when its exclusion from international institutions has made that difficult) are now spurring the rest of the world to reassess its value as a liberal democracy on the frontlines of a new clash of ideologies. As countries increasingly recognize the threat that the Chinese Communist Party poses, they should understand the value of working with Taiwan. And they should remember that if Taiwan were to fall, the consequences would be catastrophic for regional peace and the democratic alliance system. It would signal that in today’s global contest of values, authoritarianism has the upper hand over democracy.