Visiting former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Thursday that other democracies should stand with Taiwan in its bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Taiwan, in many respects, is a model for the wider world, as it has transformed from an impoverished dictatorship into a vibrant, dynamic, pluralist democracy, Abbott said, during a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen (???).
The meeting was livestreamed via Tsai's Facebook page.
"You have demonstrated to all the countries of the Indo-Pacific region that it is possible to be both rich and free, to have both liberty and democracy," said the former Australian leader, who arrived in Taiwan earlier this week to attend a regional forum.
He said that unfortunately, not everyone is pleased with Taiwan's progress, and it is challenged on an almost daily basis by its giant neighbor.
"It's more important than ever, under such circumstances, your fellow democracies stand shoulder to shoulder with you," said Abbott, who served as Australia's prime minister from 2013 to 2015.
Countries like Australia can best help by building a deeper relationship with Taiwan across the board, particularly in the area of trade, Abbott said.
"I can't think of a stronger signal of democracies standing shoulder to shoulder with Taiwan than Taiwan's accession to the CPTPP," Abbott said.
He expressed the hope that the current members of the regional trade bloc would welcome Taiwan's CPTPP application, which was formally submitted on Sept. 22.
In response, President Tsai thanked Abbott for his vocal support of Taiwan's CPTPP bid, and she said the country is pursuing deeper cooperation with other democracies.
"Taiwan is willing to contribute to upholding regional peace and stability," Tsai said. "We seek to deepen collaboration with other freedom-loving democracies in such areas as vaccines, emerging technologies, climate change and supply chains."
On Sept. 30, Abbott said during an Australian parliamentary committee hearing that he was "strongly in favor" of Taiwan's inclusion in the CPTPP, a trade bloc that currently comprises Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abbott is in Taiwan mainly to deliver a keynote address at the annual Yushan Forum that will be held Friday.
Now in its fifth year, the Taiwan-initiated regional forum seeks to strengthen the nation's relationship with ASEAN member countries, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Last year, former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke at the forum.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel