Audrey Tang to represent Taiwan at Tokyo Games

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Audrey Tang to represent Taiwan at Tokyo Games

‘PERFECT CHOICE’: Tang’s digital innovations, such as a mask purchasing system, gained her recognition in Japan, where the media dubbed her the ‘IT genius minister’

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jason Pan / Staff reporters

Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) is to represent the government at the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games, the Executive Yuan announced yesterday.

Tang would fill in for Minister of Education Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠), who is busy with preparations for Taiwan’s college entrance and teacher certification exams, both of which are scheduled for late this month, near the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said.

As Tang has gained recognition at home and abroad for her efforts to promote digital policy, open governance and social innovation, “she is the perfect choice to represent our government at the Tokyo Olympics,” Lo said.

Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang addresses a news conference in an undated photograph. Photo courtesy of the Executive Yuan

Tang designed Taiwan’s mask purchasing system when the COVID-19 outbreak began last year, as well as a “mask map” to check availability in real time.

These digital innovations received much attention in Japan, with Japanese media dubbing her the “IT genius minister” of Taiwan.

Positive interactions between Taiwan and Japan have increased recently, and “Tang leading Taiwan’s delegation to the Tokyo Olympics sends a strong message of reinforcing bilateral relations between Taiwan and Japan,” a government source said.

The Olympic opening ceremony is scheduled for 8pm on July 23 at Tokyo’s new National Stadium. The Games are to run through Aug. 8 after a year-long delay due to COVID-19.

Taiwan’s national Olympic team comprises 33 men and 33 women, who are to compete in 18 sports, the Sports Administration said.

The administration falls under the portfolio of the Ministry of Education, which is why the education minister usually represents the government at the Olympic Games.

Additional reporting by CNA

Minister Audrey Tang to represent Taiwan government at Tokyo Olympics

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Top Taiwanese officials attend US tech summit

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Top Taiwanese officials attend US tech summit

By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter

The US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence on Tuesday hosted the first Global Emerging Technology Summit, attended virtually by Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) and physically by Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴).

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan delivered speeches in person, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the US said in a news release yesterday, which included a photograph of Hsiao at the meeting in Washington.

Blinken said that “it’s not enough to highlight the horrors of techno-authoritarianism, to point to what countries like China and Russia are doing, and say that it’s wrong and dangerous,” adding that democracies have to pass the tech test together.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, rear left, addresses the US National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence’s Global Emerging Technology Summit in Washington on Tuesday. Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang addressed the meeting via video link, while Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim attended in person. Photo courtesy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States

“We know China is determined to become the world’s technology leader, and they have a well-resourced and comprehensive plan to achieve those ambitions,” he said. “We must preserve our competitive and comparative advantages.”

“That means building resilient, diverse and secure supply chains for critical technologies. Our proposed investments in semiconductor manufacturing here at home is an important part of that,” he said.

Blinken highlighted the importance of 5G security and trustworthy artificial intelligence, as well as setting technical standards and creating norms for emerging technologies.

“In the coming weeks, the [US] State Department will be releasing its first ever data strategy to help us use data more effectively and more creatively for diplomacy,” he said.

Tang delivered a prerecorded speech on digital democracy during a section on the summit’s agenda titled “Israel and Taiwan Remarks.”

Digital democracy in Taiwan means promoting transparency and making the state transparent to its citizens, Tang said.

However, in a regime dominated by digital authoritarianism, transparency means making citizens transparent to the state, she said.

Taiwan is no stranger to the most unrelenting disinformation campaigns in the world. While the government does not enforce any top-down or lockdown information initiatives, it promotes decentralized approaches to combat an “infodemic,” she said, referring to rapid and far-reaching spread of accurate and inaccurate information.

For example, Tang said that before she joined the Cabinet, she helped set up an open system of communications to prevent disinformation during the 2014 Sunflower movement.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government engaged social engineers to develop an online mask map system and a contact tracing system using the 1922 short message service, she said.

Taiwan has a huge amount of high-quality data, a world-class semiconductor industry, smart manufacturing, strong computing power and advanced networking infrastructure, while following a democratic model of governance, Tang said.

The government is also promoting the Digital Nation and Innovative Economic Development Program, also known as Digi+, which encompasses digitalization, innovation, governance and inclusion, in a bid to transform Taiwan into a critical force in the global economy, she said.

Taiwan has the determination and capability to be a reliable partner for the US and the international community of democracies regarding artificial intelligence strategies, for the sake of people’s prosperity, security and welfare, Tang said.

Top officials from other nations — including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoana, Japanese Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Shinji Inoue, South Korean Minister of Science and Information Communication Technology Lim Hye-sook — joined the meeting via videoconference or shared pre-recorded speeches, TECRO said.