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Mainland Affairs Council

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President Chen's Address to the National Day Rally

Mr. Chairman, Foreign Dignitaries, Distinguished Guests and Fellow Citizens: Good morning!

Let me begin by expressing our sincere appreciation to our distinguished guests, who have come from afar, and to our friends who have extended their support to Taiwan over the years. Thank you all for joining us here--together with the 23 million people of Taiwan--to celebrate the ninety-third birthday of the Republic of China. 

To the people of Taiwan, 2004 is a year to be remembered: Olympians representing Taiwan in Athens had, for the first time in history, gallantly captured the first and second gold medals of this nation--for themselves, for Taiwan, and as an answer to the yearning of 23 million people of our country. Decades from now, the accounts of Taiwan's triumphant moments in the Olympic Games will continue to leave indelible imprints in the chronicle of Taiwan and in our collective memory. 

When Taiwan's first gold medal was conferred officially, waves of emotions swept through the hearts of our athletes and millions of our fellow citizens, who witnessed that glorious moment in history with tears of joy streaming down their faces. Perhaps those not from Taiwan find it difficult to comprehend the bittersweet sentiment so deeply felt by all of us--one that stems from a profound regret that our gold medallists are forbidden to sing our national anthem and salute our national flag, and that our only recourse is to make a loud appeal to the international media: "I am from Taiwan!" 

This is the "Story of Taiwan"--an arduous journey that never ceases to engender new chapters of glory and success. In the past half a century, the 23 million of people of Taiwan toiled tirelessly on this land to bring about economic developments and democratic achievements--their indefatigable spirits and unfaltering strengths fill the pages of the same moving story of Taiwan. 

Today, we have invited our Olympic and Paralympic champions to lead the chorus of our National Anthem. In a song that entwines our people with the remembrance of our glorious past, we honor the "Heroes of Taiwan"; and as sounds of our national Anthem reach far beyond the horizon, we join here today with our Olympic heroes as a symbolic gesture that each and every one of you, my fellow citizens, is a hero of Taiwan. 

Taiwan is a small country. Facing a multitude of challenges and vigorous competition, we must stand tall on the international stage, relying only on our intrinsic capabilities. External difficulties should make us more united internally. The transfer of governing power between political parties and the actualization of democratic ideas serve to strengthen our nation and improve our international competitiveness. We cannot afford to dwell upon the victory or defeat of each election, nor can we allow our nation to remain stagnant and our society divided. The long-term authoritarian government of the past has brought about inappropriate and defective policy regarding ethnic groups and discrepancy in national identity. After the alternation of political party in power, we must seize new opportunities for rebuilding solidarity, instead of dwelling on distractive confrontation.

In my inauguration speech of this year, I specifically called attention to the issues of identity and ethnicity, which constitute serious matters that cannot be denied or deliberately overlooked in today's society. My colleagues and I, in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the governing party, will lead the way in addressing such issues. We will take the first step and begin with candid self-reflection. Just this past September, the DPP passed a binding resolution of supremacy--the Resolution on Ethnic Diversity and National Unity. Soon after the National Day celebration, the Executive Yuan will convene a "Conference on Ethnic and Cultural Development," for which much time and effort have been devoted towards its fruition. These concrete actions signify the beginning of mutual understanding, rather than an end to our own introspection.

The story of Taiwan is co-authored by every ethnic group of this land. Where we stand is the motherland of the Indigenous, Hakka and Hoklo. It is a new home for the "new settlers," and a new world for immigrants from other parts of the world. Taiwan's national identity is established with all-inclusive participation from our ethnic groups--each one being the master of this land, and their mother tongues the languages of Taiwan. Whether an individual identifies with Taiwan or the Republic of China, per se, any such professed expression of national identity is a testament to one's loyalty towards this country; and such an expression should not be distorted or misused to divide the people. Rather, let mutual respect, understanding and acceptance prevail despite our divergent views. 

The sovereignty of the Republic of China is vested with the 23 million people of Taiwan. The Republic of China is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the Republic of China. This is an indisputable fact. 

Today, in many corners of the world, Taiwan's agricultural, technical and medical missions are making remarkable contributions, as Taiwan dedicates itself to active participation in the international community, offering economic aid and humanitarian assistance; for we believe that "one with moral integrity will never be devoid of good neighbors," as Confucius says.

Next year, the United Nations (UN) will celebrate its 60th anniversary. At a time when expectations for the reform and consolidation of the UN system rise high in the international community, and a sense of urgency felt for expanding international participation, it is most misfortunate and unfair that the UN--an international organization that vows to adhere to the values of "peace, respect, equality and friendship," and claims to uphold the "principle of universality of membership"--continues to exclude the 23 million people of Taiwan.

The Resolution 2758 of the 1971 UN General Assembly addresses the issue of representation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the UN and relevant organizations. However, it never endows the PRC any right to "represent the people of Taiwan." It is essential that Resolution 2758 should not be wrongly used as an excuse to exclude Taiwan from the UN system. Misusing this resolution to obstruct the participation of Taiwan people not only violates the UN Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and other international human rights principles; it is also the greatest irony to the principle of "universality of membership."

In Taiwan--a country of 36,000 square kilometers with effective governance and a sound political system--sovereignty is vested with the people, who enjoy full freedoms and human rights. With a foreign reserve of over 230 billion USD and an average annual income per capita of approximately 14,000 USD, Taiwan also ranks as the 15th largest trading country in the world. A member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and other international organizations, Taiwan has endeavored to participate effectively in the international arena. There is no reason that the 23 million people of Taiwan should continue to be "politically isolated" and remain as international nomads without due acknowledgement.

Taiwan must stand tall on the international stage, with parity and dignity. This is a wish shared by the 23 million people of Taiwan. In the same spirit, it is the yearning of each of our fellow citizens to see our national flag raised and our national anthem played in the Olympic award ceremony. It is but a simple wish that should never be ignored by any member of civilized societies nor met with flagrant attitude that retorts: "nobody cares about you!"

The people of Taiwan have together created a miraculous era of economic growth and authored the glorious history of democratic reforms. However, the greatest responsibility of our generation is to provide for the coming generations a future of "peace and security" and "sustainable development."

It is self-evident that our economic achievements and democratic accomplishments can only prevail if our national security is well ensured. As an old adage goes, "One shall be famished if one awaits indolently for the merciful provision of nature; and one shall be defeated if one relies on others to fight his battle." Only if we remain resolute in our determination to defend ourselves and build up sufficient defense capabilities can we ensure peace across the Taiwan Strait and security for Taiwan. 

The threat of military force poses the greatest "shadows of terror" and "forces of darkness" across the Taiwan Strait. At present, there are more than 600 ballistic missiles targeting Taiwan, and the numbers grow by 50 to 75 missiles each year--a serious threat that neither the Taiwan people nor the international society can afford to look on idly. These "shadows of terror" and "forces of darkness" not only directly threaten the peaceful status quo of the Taiwan Strait, they also undermine regional stability and global security.

Taiwan is pleased to witness the steady progress, reforms and peaceful emergence of China. We also extend our best wishes to the other side of the Strait as it prepares for the 2008 Beijing Olympics; and we hope that it will be a successful event conducted in accordance with the Olympic spirits of peace and equality. Nevertheless, the international community should be wary of and yet hope for the emergence of China to be accompanied by a "peaceful awakening", rather than a hegemony of belligerence and aggression.

In my inaugural address on May 20th of this year, I sincerely called for leaders on both sides of the Strait, with the new century upon us, to heed the new trend of regional integration and global partnership, and to adopt a brand new frame of mind and together take a fresh, unparalleled approach in addressing future cross-strait issues. If both sides are willing, on the basis of goodwill, to create an environment engendered upon "peaceful development and freedom of choice," then in the future, the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China--or Taiwan and China--can seek to establish political relations in any form whatsoever. We would not exclude any possibility, so long as there is the consent of the 23 million people of Taiwan.

I would like to reaffirm the promises and principles set forth in my inaugural speech. Those commitments will be honored during my presidency. We are aware of the recent transfer of power and personnel reshuffling on the other side of the Strait. We hope that, with greater wisdom, both sides could create better opportunities for new development on cross-strait relations.

Past experiences have shown that military threats and constricting Taiwan's international space will only further distance people on either side of the Strait. Belligerent and hostile rhetoric simply cannot improve mutual trust and understanding. "Cross-strait relations are not necessarily a zero-sum game, there will never be a winner unless it's a win-win situation for both sides." I believe the fourth-generation leadership on the other side of the Strait should be able to fully understand this point.

On many issues, the governments and the peoples on both sides of the Strait hold different views--some of which result from the absence of communication. In light of this, I have, on many occasions, proposed that, based on the existing foundation, both sides should promote the resumption of cross-strait dialogue and communication channel, so as to reduce the gap between the two sides and to construct a foundation of mutual trust. Today, I would like to take the initiative to propose that both sides use the basis of the 1992 meeting in Hong Kong, to seek possible schemes that are "not necessarily perfect but acceptable", as preparation of a step forward in the resumption of dialogue and consultation.

Any conflict in the Taiwan Strait could result in irreparable damages to the peoples on both sides. Therefore, I propose that both sides should seriously consider the issue of "arms control" and take concrete actions to reduce tension and military threats across the Taiwan Strait. Not too long ago, Taiwan's initiative to cancel the Han-kuang military exercise originally scheduled for last September was based on such deliberation. We believe only when both sides are committed to exercising restraint and avoiding any action that might further complicate the situation or induce conflicts, can we ensure that cross-strait relations develop on a peaceful and stable path. In the long term, both sides should formally end the state of hostility across the Taiwan Strait and establish confidence-building measures through consultations and dialogues. Furthermore, we should review the armament policies of both sides and seek to establish the "Code of Conduct across the Taiwan Strait" as the tangible guarantee of permanent peace in the Taiwan Strait. 

At present, both sides are dedicated to pursuing economic development and social stability; both are facing a critical time and opportune moment of transition. The strategy for cross-strait economy and trade in this age of globalization is in accordance with our mindset of peaceful development. If we can reduce the risk of investment in the China market and clearly establish the division of labor in the global supply chain, a new cross-strait economic and trade relations--both competitive and collaborative--can be gradually formed. Meanwhile, Taiwan must expedite its economic transformation, promote development within Taiwan, reaching out to the world, increase comprehensive strength, and disperse risks, so as to effectively utilize the opportunities of cross-strait economic development. The executive branch is currently formulating a plan that provides convenient and efficient means to facilitate chartered flights for passengers and cargo. It is our earnest hope that cross-strait consultations can begin as soon as possible, so as to seek further progress in the Three Link policy. 

Distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, "Unite Taiwan, stabilize cross-strait relations, seek social harmony, and reinvigorate the economy"-these are not only my commitments to the people of Taiwan; they are also responsibilities that all political parties must shoulder together. The impending legislative election at the end of this year presents us an opportunity, as well as a challenge. Therefore, I hope that all political parties will hold a sensible campaign based on goodwill and rational competition--so as to open a new era for post-election politics and to give Taiwan a chance to attain lasting unity, stability, peace, and prosperity. 

I hereby offer my pledge that upon the completion of the year-end legislative election, I will, with utmost sincerity, invite leaders from all political parties to collaborate in the following undertakings: establish a Committee for Cross-strait Peace and Development; forge ahead with the constitutional reform project; and tackle national policy issues that are of vital importance to the people. We will seek to reach a majority consensus, based on which, both the governing and opposition parties can make a critical contribution to the enduring political stability and sustainable development of our country. 

Dear fellow citizens, let me now share with you about a new documentary, based on real stories of post-921 earthquake restorations; it is called Life. Like many people who have seen the documentary, I was moved to tears by these amazing stories of resiliency. Those tears were not a mere commiseration to lament the tragic loss of so many people; instead, they were kindred emotions shared by all who witnessed such display of strength and the power of healing. What this documentary captures is not merely poignant stories of 921, but also an evocative narrative commemorating Taiwan and those who build their lives on this land, whose courage and strength weave a remarkable story of triumph.

Inevitably, life may sometimes seem like passing through a dark and windy tunnel, where we find ourselves confronted by numerous setbacks and tribulations; at times, the future seems inexorably bleak as if we have reached the end of the road. Yet, marching on, we must and we will, with an unrelenting vitality that is our beacon of hope until we emerge into the light at the end of the tunnel. On this National Day, I encourage all of you to personally experience this powerful film and to never relinquish opportunities to meet life's challenges with fortitude. For the future of our country, we will stride forward in unity to author a glorious new chapter for "The Story of Taiwan".

In closing, let me wish the Republic of China a Happy Birthday. May our great nation enjoy peace and everlasting prosperity. Distinguished guests and my fellow citizens, I extend to you my warmest wishes for good health and much success in all your endeavors. Thank you!

【Source: Office of the President】