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President Chen's 520 Inaugural Speech:Taiwan Stands Up:Advancing to an Uplifting Era(excerpt)

  • Date:2000-05-20

The 20th century left us with a major lesson--that war is a failure of humanity. Waged for whatever lofty purposes or high-sounding reasons, war is the greatest harm to freedom, democracy and human rights. Over the past one hundred plus years, China has suffered imperialist aggression, which leftindelible wounds. Taiwan has had an even sadder fate, tormented by brute force and colonial rule. These similar historical experiences should bring mutual understanding between the people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, setting a solid foundation for pursuing freedom, democracy and human rights together. However, due to the long period of separation, the two sides have developed vastly different political systems and ways of life,obstructing empathy and friendship between the people on the two sides, and even creating a wall of divisiveness and confrontation. Today, as the Cold War has ended, it is time for the two sides to cast aside the hostility left from the old era. We do not need to wait further because there is a new opportunity now for the two sides to create an era of reconciliation together. The people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same ancestral, cultural, and historical background. While upholding the principles of democracy and parity, building upon the existing foundations, and constructing conditions for cooperation through good will, we believe that the leaders on both sides possess enough wisdom and creativity to jointly deal with the question of a future "one China." I fully understand that, as the popularly elected 10th-term president of the Republic of China, I must abide by the Constitution, maintain the sovereignty, dignity and security of our country, and ensure the well-being of all citizens. Therefore, as long as the CCP regime has no intention to use military force against Taiwan, I pledge that during my term in office, I will not declare independence, I will not change the national title, I will not push forth the inclusion of the so-called "state-to-state" description in the Constitution, and I will not promote a referendum to change the status quo in regard to the question of independence or unification. Furthermore, there is no question of abolishing the Guidelines for National Unification and the National Unification Council. History has proved that war will lead to more hatred and enmity, without the least help to the development of mutual relations. Chinese people emphasize the difference between statesmanship and hegemony, believing in the philosophy that a government which employs benevolence "will please those near and appeal to those from afar," and "when those from afar will not submit, then one must practice kindness and virtue to attract them." Such Chinese wisdom will remain a universal value. Under the leadership of Mr. Deng Xiaoping and Mr. Jiang Zemin, the mainland has created a miracle of economic openness. In Taiwan, over a half century, not only have we created a miracle economy, we have also created the political marvel of democracy. On such a basis, as long as the governments and people on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can interact more, following the principles of "goodwill reconciliation, active cooperation, and permanent peace," while at the same time respecting the free choice of the people and excluding unnecessary obstacles, both sides of the Strait can make great contributions to the prosperity and stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Both sides will also create a glorious civilization for humanity.