China protests Taiwanese minister’s virtual address to democracy forum in Seoul

Posted on : 2024-03-19 16:30 KST Modified on : 2024-03-19 16:30 KST
China called on South Korea to comply with the principle of “one China”
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea heads to the podium at the Summit for Democracy, held at the Shilla Seoul in the Korean capital’s Jung District on March 18, to deliver welcoming remarks. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea heads to the podium at the Summit for Democracy, held at the Shilla Seoul in the Korean capital’s Jung District on March 18, to deliver welcoming remarks. (Yonhap)

Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang said that “no democracy is an island, even Taiwan,” during a speech delivered virtually at the third Summit for Democracy, which kicked off in Seoul on Monday.

On the same day, the Chinese government expressed its opposition to Taiwan’s participation in the summit and asked South Korea to comply with the principle of “one China.”

“We are building bridges and finding solutions at home and abroad,” Tang said in a video message as part of a round table of experts on the subjects of AI, digital technology and democracy on Monday afternoon. 

“With nearly 40 other countries holding elections this year, AI could amplify risks via deepfakes, echo chambers and micro-targeting,” she went on. “As a responsible member of the international community, Taiwan is willing and able to work with all stakeholders in ensuring AI develops safely and sustainably. “

In addition to Tang’s virtual attendance, Liang Kuang-chung, head of the Taipei Mission in Korea, also reportedly attended the summit in person.

Taiwan also had Tang participate via videoconference for the first and second summits. Known as a genius programmer, she has earned global renown for her proactive stances on digital technology and democracy.

The Summit for Democracy, which was first organized under US leadership in 2021, is an event characterized by an approach of pushing back against Beijing. The third summit focuses on the theme of “Democracy for Future Generations” and continues in Seoul through Tuesday.

In consideration of potential objections by China, the South Korean government appears to have gone with an approach of not disclosing ahead of time that Tang would be speaking, and of having her speak via videoconference rather than attending in person.

Nevertheless, the Chinese government objected strongly to Taiwan participating in the summit in any form.

In a regular briefing Monday, newly appointed Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian stressed that China “firmly opposes the ROK inviting the Taiwan authorities to participate in the so-called Summit for Democracy.”

ROK stands for Republic of Korea, South Korea’s official name.

He went on to say, “There is but one China in the world. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory. The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.”

“China has strongly urged the ROK to abide by the one-China principle and stop providing [a] podium for or supporting ‘Taiwan independence’ forces,” he added.

Meanwhile, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol delivered a welcoming address for the Summit for Democracy’s Ministerial Conference on Monday morning in which he emphasized the need for international solidarity as “democratic systems are threatened by fake news and false information created with artificial intelligence and digital technology.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs Cho Tae-yul had a luncheon and meeting the same day at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs complex in Seoul with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in South Korea for the summit.

During the meeting, the two of them reaffirmed their commitment to upholding a rule-based international order and exchanging views on issues in regions such as Ukraine, the Middle East, the South China Sea, and Taiwan, the Foreign Ministry said. Territorial clashes between the Philippines and China in the South China Sea also appear to have been discussed there.

By Shin Hyeong-cheol, staff reporter; Park Min-hee, senior staff writer

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