Taipei, June 25 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) called Monday on like-minded countries to stand together and take action against anti-democratic forces that have put democracy at the risk of regression, while vowing that Taiwan will never move backward.
"Historical trends do not always favor the forward march of democracy. But in Taiwan, moving backward is not an option," Tsai said at a forum titled "Global Solidarity of Democracy in Taiwan" hosted by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD).
The forum, attended by guests from pro-democracy organizations in countries including Tunisia, India, Japan, South Korea and the United States, was held to mark the 15th anniversary of the TFD, a government-funded institution aimed at promoting democracy around the world.
In her address, Tsai said that the gathering of so many long- time democracy advocates is not just a celebration but also a timely opportunity to reflect on the past, present and future of democracy.
Tsai said that how democracy has taken hold in Taiwan makes the country considered to be one of the world's most vibrant democracies, although it has room for improvement.
She went on to address the challenges facing Taiwan and other democracies, saying that "while democracy can move forward, it can also regress."
"In the 21st century, democracy is in retreat," according to Tsai, who cited a report by Freedom House that said this year marks the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.
Tsai cited another report by the National Endowment for Democracy, funded largely by the U.S. Congress, which examines how China and Russia use "sharp power" to project their influence.
The report asserts that "authoritarian regimes are exercising sharp power to take advantage of our free and open societies, promote alternative agendas, control and censor information and undermine our democracies," Tsai said.
"How we meet these challenges will determine what kind of values we pass on to future generations. It's up to us to make sure our democracy not only survives, but is able to thrive," she said.
Tsai said that Taiwan is on the frontline of a battle that is taking place here, in Australia, the U.S., Europe and in like-minded countries all over the world.
"Over the past two years, we have faced increasing pressure from China as they threaten our democratic way of life and limit our international space," Tsai said.
These anti-democratic forces will proliferate if like-minded countries do not stand and act together, she said. "It is only if like-minded countries work together -- and stand together -- that we can fight against unwanted economic, political or military coercion, and defend the values we hold dear."