FNF, USTW Watch: Building Trust, Confidence Against Autocracy Essential for Democracies

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© FNF Global Innovation Hub

In a year marked by record number of elections around the globe, strengthening trust among democratic allies is vital to maintaining democratic systems. On May 16, the German Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) Global Innovation Hub and the US Taiwan Watch (USTW) hosted their first joint event. The event highlighted the key to strengthen trust between Taiwan and its international allies, offering strategic suggestions for future administrations of Taiwan, US and Europe.

The event saw the participation of Dr. Rainer Adam, Interim Head of FNF Global Innovation Hub; Prof. Dr. Fang-Yu Chen, Chief Editor of USTW; Jasmine Lee, Co-editor of USTW; David Demes, Vice President of the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club (TFCC) and Freelance German Journalist; Adam DuBard, former Senior Program Associate of FNF World Order and Globalization Hub in Washington DC, alongside several political and media professionals.

During the event, Prof. Dr. Fang-Yu Chen noted increased collaboration among journalists, scholars, NGOs, and activists in Taiwan, citing this event serves as a model for building trust among democratic allies.

The long-standing ties and trust between Taiwan and the U.S. also face challenges. According to the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom and the U.S. Taiwan Watch, inconsistent behavior by state actors or agencies may damage trust and and foster the spread of conspiracy theories. This is a potential issue for Taiwan and Europe now or in the near future.

FNF, a German political foundation, established its Taipei office in 2021 to promote democratic values and liberalism. Earlier this year, the Friedrich Naumann Foundation's newsletter analyzed the decline in trust between Taiwan and the U.S., which could become a breeding ground for authoritarian regimes' cognitive and psychological warfare.

Diplomatic transparency and symbolic actions will certainly have a direct impact on public trust. For example, the German government’s reception of Taiwanese officials visiting Germany or addressing Chinese cyberattacks and espionage. Dr. Rainer Adam believes the key issue stems from many business leaders and political decision-makers not fully recognizing the nature of today's autocratic regimes. Dr. Adam says, "Too many are too optimistic, some might say 'naïve,' regarding Russia and other authoritarian regimes."

David Demes noted that Germany's political landscape reflected a "wishful thinking" dependence on autocratic regimes. Demes asserts, "The war in Ukraine has exposed Germany's dramatic dependence on the goodwill of authoritarian regimes. Instead of speeding up de-risking, the Chancellery and key industries seem to be doubling down on their China gamble, deepening the foreign policy rift inside the coalition government."

Jasmine Lee pointed out that Taiwan-U.S. relations are strikingly strong, driven by shared strategic objectives and democratic values. However, skepticism and doubts about the U.S. persist. She highlighted the insecurity of Taiwanese people and U.S. tendency to prioritize its strategic goals in narratives as underlying factors eroding the trust. For narratives design, Jasmine urged avoiding portraying Taiwan as a responsibility and instead emphasize its role as a partner. She also called for more concrete actions from the Europe to strengthen trust in transatlantic relations.


The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) promotes democracy, human rights, economic freedom, and curbing climate change. In Taiwan, the FNF Global Innovation Hub was established in 2021. The Hub focuses on “digital transformation” and “innovation for democracy”, aiming to support the Friedrich Naumann Foundation on its way to becoming a creative innovation platform for liberalism.

US Taiwan Watch is a think tank and media creator focused on the relationship between the United States and Taiwan. We are building a community for a new generation of thinkers and doers to tell the story of why the US matters for Taiwan, and why Taiwan matters for the US.