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July 28, 2017

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WLFD greatly contributes to ROC's soft power abroad

The R.O.C. chapter of the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD, 世界自由民主聯盟), a non-governmental organization (NGO) dedicated to the promotion of democracy and human rights worldwide, on Thursday held celebrations for the 60th World Freedom Day. The Jan. 23 event honors the historic date in 1954 in which 14,000 mainland Chinese soldiers and a further 8,000 North Korean prisoners of the Korean War decided not to return to their respective countries, but rather to keep up their fight against communism in Taiwan.

The annual celebrations further echoed the substantial accomplishments made by all Taiwanese people over the last six decades in various areas ranging from human rights and democracy to agriculture, education, business and international relations. Thanks to the successful transformation of the Asian People's Anti-Communist League (APACL, 亞洲人民反共聯盟) in 1967 into the WLFD — an international organization that truly embodies the essence of the fight for freedom and democracy — in 1990, leaders in Taiwan now have the power to lead by example and to potentially attract others toward a similar path. In order to successfully shape the preferences of others, however, our leaders will have to make crucial choices about the types of power they use, especially when dealing with Beijing authorities.

Based on Joseph S. Nye Jr.'s evaluation of a country's military, economic and cultural strengths, Taiwan boasts an impressive amount of "soft power" in four main aspects: its talented human resources, advanced products, cultural agenda and its business opportunities. And through this driving force, Taiwan can successfully influence the international community through its networks and channels to bring democracy, human rights and good will into people's lives — influencing the world with soft power. With this principle in mind, the WLFD can be instrumental to Taiwan's foreign diplomacy.

Most people don't know it, but the WLFD, which has been a member of the United Nations since 1993, has more than 100 chapters around the world. As an active participant in the U.N.'s NGO annual meetings, the WLFD has been able to make friendly relations with the leaders of NGOs across the world and promote non-state level diplomacy while strengthening ties with states that do not recognize the Republic of China including the People's Republic of China.

In light of improved cross-strait relations and diplomatic efforts advanced by civilians on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, Taiwanese authorities can work closely with Taiwanese businessmen and expats in China, utilizing their connections with influential officials. Through its connections on the mainland, the WLFD can also advocate its concept of "parliamentarian diplomacy" with its Chinese counterparts with the aim of easing tensions built up during previous decades of confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

With China's economic development over the past 20 years, there is little doubt that globalization will one day become the foundation of global democracy. In the meantime, China's democratic development, economic miracle and fair education opportunities will further provide people with unlimited access to the same knowledge that gave birth to the rise of democracy in Taiwan.

So far, the R.O.C. has clearly shown to the world that its 23 million people are all willing to fulfill their responsibilities as world citizens in the global village to make the world a better place. Taiwan can share with the world our experience in promoting freedom and democracy, especially with the 1.3 billion Chinese on the other side of the Taiwan Strait.

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