THE annual report of Freedom House on world freedom is considered as the oldest, most authoritative report on democracy and human rights in the world. Its recent “Freedom in the World 2014” report ranks the Republic of China (Taiwan), along with Japan, South Korea, and Australia, etc., as a FREE country. For this reason, Taiwan has won high marks for democracy and has exemplified itself as an Asian model for freedom.
The Philippines, like Taiwan, is also the pioneer of democracy in Asia. Both countries are true believers in freedom and democracy, and have taken pride in cultivating free, open, and civil societies. For years, our two countries have strived to uphold the protection of human rights and the promotion of the universal values of democracy, freedom, and rule of law. Both have put forth enormous efforts in empowering our respective citizens’ political rights and civil liberties, resulting in the successful formation of an open civil society. Our shared values have been amplified by common practices in a democratic electoral system, such as direct presidential election, and freedom of speech, etc. Both governments have also been actively responsive to the pluralistic views and diversified voices of their citizens.
With regard to the recent maritime disputes in the region, Taiwan and the Philippines both adhere to the principle that any discrepancies should be resolved through peaceful resolutions and relevant international laws. As President Ma Ying-jeou of the ROC/Taiwan asserted in his “East China Sea Peace Initiative,” that disputes in the region should be resolved by the rule of law and all stakeholders involved should jointly explore and conserve marine resources in the region.
The similarities in our two countries’ democratic value systems have indeed created golden opportunities for cooperation on issues of mutual concern across various fields, and have enabled us to leap forward to strengthen our bilateral substantive relationship. Moreover, our shared values in search of justice have enlightened us to peacefully resolve any disputes through diplomacy and dialogue.
Truly, freedom, democracy and respect for human rights are all indispensable prerequisites in the construction and prosperity of a civil society. Not just sharing these values, our two countries have taken concrete measures to carry them out. As leading democracies in the region, it is our hope that our two countries will further work together to continue striving for the genuine freedom for our two peoples and contributing to the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.