Taiwan’s Representative to the United States Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said Friday that her country is focused on building a more resilient democracy and will not permit any interference by China in its upcoming presidential election.
In an interview on Bloomberg TV Balance of Power program, Hsiao said China has been trying for years to interfere with the people’s decisions in Taiwan’s major elections, ever since the first direct presidential vote in 1996, and some of Beijing’s tactics have become very sophisticated.
“We are trying to strengthen our democracy, to build a more resilient democracy so that we are less vulnerable to external interference and interventions,” Hsiao said. “And ultimately, the people of Taiwan will decide how our elections go. We will not let the PRC (People’s Republic of China) coerce us into making those decisions.”
When asked whether she would join the ticket of Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德), who is the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 2024 presidential candidate, Hsiao declined to confirm the rumor, saying she was on the show not to talk about her personal future, but rather to focus on the ties between the United States and Taiwan.
Hsiao said that because of Taiwan’s relationship with the U.S., the former has been gaining the capability to ensure peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region by finding ways to curb China’s aggression and deal with its military build-up in the region and its coercive use of military power.
Taiwan’s response to those aggressive moves are within the parameters of its partnership with the U.S., said Hsiao, a former legislator who has been serving as Taiwan’s representative to the U.S. since 2020.
She noted that last year, China used the visit of then U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei as an excuse to launch coercive military action against Taiwan, which was very much resented by the Taiwanese people.
Taiwan has to constantly struggle to fight back against that type of bullying by China, which is aimed at isolating Taiwan, Hsiao said, referring to the large-scale military exercises that Beijing launched around Taiwan shortly after Pelosi’s 19-hour visit to Taipei in August 2022.
“But again, I do want to reiterate that ultimately our goal is to maintain stability in the region, and we are committed to the status quo,” Hsiao added.
Taiwan has a very different political system from China and will continue to focus on preserving its democracy, its way of life, and its right to choose its own leaders, she said.
Taiwan held its first free and direct presidential election in 1996, when Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) and Lien Chan (連戰) of the Kuomintang were elected as president and vice president, respectively. Prior to that, the president and vice president were chosen in a vote by the deputies of the country’s National Assembly.
Its next presidential election is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2024, when Lai is expected to come up against two opposition party candidates and one independent contender.
In Hsiao’s Bloomberg interview Friday, she said Taiwan will stay in close contact with its partners in the U.S., and “we also hope that the PRC will be open to dialogue with us as well.”
On the issue of Taiwan’s role in the global semiconductor industry, Hsiao said the investments by contract chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in the U.S. state of Arizona are critical to the consolidation and stabilization of the industry’s supply chain, as it will help to meet demand in the semiconductor market and from consumers.
The government of Taiwan has been encouraging its semiconductor suppliers to expand their presence in the global market by investing in high-end chip technologies and production, so as to ensure stability of the global supply chains, she said.
Taiwan has spent decades developing its semiconductor ecosystem in order to roll out very competitive chips, Hsiao said, adding that “in the long run, we still see Taiwan as indispensable and irreplaceable.”
TSMC is investing US$40 billion to build two wafer fabs in Arizona, with the first scheduled to start mass production on the advanced 4 nanometer process in 2025. The second fab is expected to begin commercial production in 2026 on the 3nm process, the chipmaker’s latest technology as of the end of last year.
According to TSMC, commercial production at the first plant has been pushed back from the initial 2024 date, due to a lack of skilled workers, which is slowing down installation of its clean room equipment.
Source: Focus Taiwan