DPP Attends Defense Conference, Demonstrates Results of Reform and Resolve to Maintain Security
On behalf of the Democratic Progressive Party, Vincent Chao, director of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs, attended the three-day 2023 U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference, which was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Williamsburg, Virginia. Chao shared with American friends and representatives recent momentous achievements in national-defense reform under President Tsai Ing-wen’s leadership, and conveyed DPP presidential candidate Lai Ching-te’s commitment to increase international exchange and maintain security in the Taiwan Strait.
During the session “The Evolution of U.S.-Taiwan Defense Policy,” Chao gave a speech and answered questions from the audience. Also delivering remarks at the conference were Chair of the American Institute in Taiwan Laura Rosenberger, U.S.-Taiwan Business Council President Rupert Hammond-Chambers, and American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Dan Blumenthal.
During his address, Chao elaborated on important improvements in Taiwan’s national defense. He explained that when President Tsai took office in 2016, there was a lack of political leadership and reform capability in the national-defense sector, with the defense budget having dropped to a record low of 1.78% of GDP. Over the past eight years, however, the DPP administration has successfully reversed this trend and increased the defense outlay to 2.5% of GDP. It has also prioritized cultivation of the defense industry, lengthened mandatory military service to one year, and improved asymmetric capabilities, among other crucial national-defense policy reforms.
Director Chao noted that a future Lai administration will continue this policy, underscoring national defense as the cornerstone of national security, as indicated in Lai’s Wall Street Journal opinion column. A President Lai will expedite Taiwan’s transition into an asymmetric fighting force, focusing on cost-effective and mobile capabilities. He will also seek greater cooperation with partners and allies, particularly in training, civil defense and information sharing.
Director Chao reiterated that Lai is the only trustworthy and credible presidential candidate on the issue of national security. The DPP administration has a clear understanding of the sources of threats in the Taiwan Strait and is consistent in advocating a more robust national defense and international cooperation. In other words, the DPP is worthy of the trust of the global community. And, having worked in close concert with President Tsai over the past four years to enhance our national defense, Lai, too, is worth the trust of our international friends.
This year's U.S.-Taiwan Defense Industry Conference featured not only representatives from the DPP and KMT, but also those from the People's Party of Taiwan for the first time. In response to a reporter's question, Director Chao said he believes that the political parties' increased attention to Taiwan-U.S. security cooperation and Taiwan's national defense is a positive thing and welcome by the people of Taiwan.
Chao stressed that diplomacy requires seriousness and consistency in word and deed. As Taiwan confronts pressing challenges, and when the world is heeding our will of self-defense, trust and credibility is crucial to cooperation with global partners. This is what Lai Ching-te will bring for the people of Taiwan, and is the best guarantee of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.