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President Ma's Response to Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of Peace

President Ma sent a letter on February 6 to Pope Benedict XVI of the Catholic Church in response to the Papal Message for World Day of Peace 2012.
The pope chose the theme "Educating Young People in Justice and Peace " for the celebration of the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2012. In his message, the pope urges political leaders to offer concrete assistance to families and educational institutions in educating young people in justice and peace. He also encourages young people to seek truth, defend the common good, make wise use of freedom, and build peace, and further states his conviction that the young, with their enthusiasm and idealism, can offer new hope to the world.
The following is the full text of the president's letter to the pope:
Your Holiness,
The message “Educating Young People in Justice and Peace” that Your Holiness issued for the World Day of Peace on January 1, 2012, expresses the sincere hope that governments around the world will, through the family and educational institutions, take responsibility for educating young people in justice and peace, as well as encouraging and assisting them with pursuing truth, maintaining public welfare and justice, safeguarding freedom and creating peace. For by so doing, young people will be enthused with ideas that bring fresh hope to the world. I was deeply touched by Your Holiness’ wise exhortations to virtue and purity.
Education has always played an important part in Chinese culture. As early as 2,500 years ago, Confucius rejected the tradition whereby education was the privilege of aristocrats and proposed a concept of “education without discrimination” that promoted equal opportunities for all. The Republic of China (Taiwan) has inherited this culture and is dedicated to providing a quality, universal education. Despite limited finances, the government still managed to increase education expenditures such that they accounted for 22.5% of the overall budget last year, and provided families with greater financial support for education. In the future, we plan to implement policies that ensure students receive a good education, from kindergarten all the way up to university. These include offering tuition-free pre-schooling for children aged five, and extending public education from nine to twelve years. We want to nurture students whose character and morals are defined by love and concern for other people, so that we can build a more humane and just society.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius held justice in particularly high regard, believing as he did that it was more important than life itself. Indeed, he once said, “I love life, and I also love justice; if I cannot have them both, then I will forego my life for justice.” I wholeheartedly believe that education paves the way for justice, and that it is only through justice that peace can prevail. For justice is the great leveler among people, and an essential pillar for peace in societies.
Since assuming the presidency of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in 2008, I have committed myself to putting the above concepts into practice. I have endeavored to improve cross-strait relations and transform the Taiwan Strait, once a flashpoint in the region, into a conduit for peace in East Asia. My efforts are based on the “1992 consensus” of “one China, respective interpretations,” as well as the principles of “shelving controversies and creating win-win solutions,” equality and reciprocity. Under the framework of the ROC Constitution, I will make the nation into a peacemaker by continuing to promote a policy of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” and maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
The close, cooperative exchanges taking place across the Taiwan Strait today are indispensible for building a long-lasting peace, and are very much in line with the hopes and expectations that both Your Holiness and all people in my country have. Indeed, the Republic of China has long been a faithful partner to the Holy See and, with your spiritual guidance, both the government and church here will spare no effort in playing the role of “bridge church” to help spread such universal values as freedom of religion and respect for human rights. We remain, as ever, dedicated to participating in the international community’s humanitarian aid work, bringing about justice for mankind as a whole and safeguarding world peace.
Please accept, Your Holiness, the reassurances of my highest consideration, as well as my best wishes for your good health and the prosperity of the Holy See.
Sincerely yours,
Ma Ying-jeou
Republic of China (Taiwan)
【Source: Office of the President】