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Mainland Affairs Council

President Ma's Remarks

President Ma Ying-jeou's National Day Address

Growing amid Challenges,

Progressing amid Reconstruction


Vice President Siew, Chairman Wu, Chairman Soong, Chairman Yok, Presidents of
the Five Yuans, Presidential Advisors, National Policy Advisers, Ministers,
Distinguished Guests, Fellow Countrymen:


Good morning!


Today is the 98th National Day of the Republic of China. In mid-August, it
was decided that this year we would forego the usual Double Tenth Day
celebrations. We simply are not in the festive mood necessary to celebrate this
national day as we mourn the deaths and disappearances of more than 700
compatriots during the Typhoon Morakot disaster. It feels as if we had lost our
own family members. We can only hope that the spirits of the deceased rest in
peace as we strive to make our homeland more secure from such disasters and to
ensure that such tragedies never happen again. To the disaster victims and to
all of our citizens, we solemnly pledge to do our utmost in this regard.


Effective land planning,

comforting disaster victims


Recent years have seen anomalous global climatic changes accompanied by
large-scale disasters around the world, a trend particularly evident in the
Asia-Pacific region. Two months ago, Taiwan received a shocking education in the
ways of nature, from which we have learned painful lessons. We awakened to the
reality that, the earth is humanity's sole source of sustenance and security, so
we must be humble in dealing with nature and become rooted in the concept of
development based on harmony with the natural environment; and we must desist
from fighting against the land we live on.


This year will be a turning point in the work of land conservation. As soon
as possible, we must pass a national land planning bill that effectively puts
public safety first, takes human livelihood as a central concern, and aims at
environmental sustainability as our ultimate goal. In particular, the bill
should prohibit or strictly limit the development of areas vulnerable to
disaster.


In the future, reconstruction in disaster areas should take climate change
into consideration and should be integrated with ongoing waterway and land
management planning. When relocation of communities becomes necessary, we should
ensure that they are relocated from danger zones to safe areas, and in so far as
possible, the areas to which they are relocated must be within the
administrative borders of their original villages, or at least within their
original rural township, so as to facilitate the continuity and sustainability
of original patterns of culture and livelihood following reconstruction.


Another crucial lesson the Morakot disaster has taught us is that disaster
preparedness is more important than disaster relief. As long as disaster
preparedness work is carried out effectively, casualties and losses can be
greatly reduced. To that end, we have launched reforms of current disaster
preparedness systems and operations aimed at strengthening coordination and
communications between central and local governments, training and drilling
local government units in routine disaster preparedness measures, and
heightening citizens' awareness of the importance of disaster preparedness.


Preparedness and rescue work has also been prioritized as a core mission of
our armed forces. As a matter of routine, the nation's five military zones will
carry out regular troop deployments in a manner that ensures they are prepared
for disasters. And when a possible disaster situation appears imminent, troops
will be deployed in advance to threatened areas so that they can be at the ready
to engage in rescue operations.


In fact, before the Morakot disaster struck, 33 township magistrates, village
heads, police and fire chiefs, and landslide experts took decisive action to
evacuate and relocate some 9,100 people from 21 villages. Had they failed to
take such timely action, casualties would have increased by over 1,000. Thanks
to the heightened disaster preparedness of these heroes and their accurate
judgment of conditions, many lives were saved.


In the course of Morakot disaster relief efforts, we have witnessed the
compassion of the people of Taiwan and the resilience of this land. In the wake
of the disaster, government agencies, citizens, and charitable organizations
islandwide have devoted themselves to serving the needs of those in disaster
areas and made generous donations totaling some NT$17.8 billion [about US$550
million]. As for rescue and relief work, our military personnel performed over
560,000 person-missions; police, fire and public works departments conducted
more than 410,000 person-missions; and volunteers carried out in excess of
140,000 person-missions. They feared no danger or obstacle, working
round-the-clock to save lives, relocate victims, repair roads, bridges and
levees, dredge rivers, and clean up homes. These heroes rescued over 50,000
disaster victims.


Among their ranks are soldiers, pilots, policemen, firefighters, village
chiefs, and volunteers. Regrettably, we are unable to acknowledge each of them
by name, and only a small number of them have received public recognition. The
huge majority remain unsung heroes, unassumingly laboring with all their hearts
for victims they look upon as family.


Though floodwaters are heartless, it is in adversity that the strong
solidarity and vitality of the people of Taiwan shine through as we all cease to
think of ourselves and join hands in mutual help. It is this sentiment that
gives us faith that things will change for the better. We must harness this
strength as the motive power for Taiwan's ongoing progress.


Braver with every challenge,

turning crisis into opportunity


Since coming into office in May of last year, this administration has become
profoundly aware that the world is entering into an era of sudden change and
tremendous challenges. We have further come to see that the way in which a
country responds to them is key to its fortunes--even to its very survival. Last
year we were first hit by the global financial tsunami, in which international
banks went out of business, stock markets plummeted, and people panicked. Along
with these developments came stagnation of exports, economic slowdown, and
mounting unemployment.


Our government immediately responded to these challenges with deliberate and
measured action. We stabilized the financial sector by fully guaranteeing all
bank deposits and cutting interest rates several times. We boosted consumer
confidence and stimulated consumption by launching programs to expand domestic
demand. We opened up new vistas for business by liberalizing restrictions on
economic interchange between Taiwan and mainland China, by opening Taiwan to
direct visits by mainland Chinese tourists, and by launching direct air, sea,
and postal links across the Taiwan Strait. And we sparked new momentum for
growth by designing policies to promote six emerging star industries and spur
the development of a diversified economy. In addition, we instituted policies
designed to bring about more efficient energy use and create a low-carbon
economy. Our actions on this front have reversed an eight-year period of
stagnation. The nation has saved 4.5 terawatt hours of power over the past year
alone, or the equivalent of a year's energy consumption by the 1.87 million
residents of Tainan County and Tainan City. Over this same time period, we have
also cut CO2 emissions by nearly 2.9 million tons, which is equal to 7,784 times
the annual CO2 absorption capacity of Da-an Forest Park, one of the largest
parks in Taipei.


These measures have enabled Taiwan to weather the global financial tsunami
and advance toward our goal of becoming a low-carbon economy. Taiwan's ranking
in the World Economic Forum's competitiveness index has jumped five notches to
12th place. And our ranking in the World Bank's Doing Business 2010 report has
risen to No. 46, up 15 notches.


Meanwhile, the economic monitoring indicators of the Council for Economic
Planning and Development have registered an upbeat "yellow-blue light" for three
consecutive months, and overall economic conditions in the third quarter of this
year have improved significantly in comparison with the second quarter. This
indicates that the economy has bottomed out and is now on the rebound.


As the saying goes, "Break an arm, yet get up braver" [i.e., when the going
gets tough, the tough get going]. Taiwan has not been overwhelmed by the
financial turmoil. On the contrary, we are more confident and able to deal with
external challenges than ever.


A few months ago, the outbreak of A(H1N1) novel influenza in Mexico raised
fears worldwide. Although it is not as lethal as SARS [severe acute respiratory
syndrome], we cannot afford to weaken our vigilance. Over the past five months,
our public and private epidemic-prevention efforts--whether in preparing
vaccines and medicines or promoting public health measures--have been on a par
with those undertaken by advanced countries. Both infection and fatality rates
have remained low, and it is gratifying to see that our citizens have been so
cooperative. Although the fall and winter seasons could see a higher incidence
of A(H1N1) influenza, we are fully prepared and confident that we will be able
to minimize its spread.


Morakot will not be the last typhoon, nor will novel influenza A(H1N1) be the
last pandemic, to hit Taiwan. In facing potential natural disasters in the
future, we must anticipate a broader range of problems and take aggressive
measures to protect ourselves. If we prepare for every typhoon as a possible
Morakot and every outbreak of infectious disease as another SARS epidemic, then
harm can certainly be greatly reduced. Typhoon Parma is the first typhoon to hit
Taiwan since Morakot. With lessons learned from Morakot fresh in mind, 7,863
people were evacuated well in advance of Parma's arrival, evidencing much
improvement in our vigilance against potential disasters.


Over the past few decades, the people of Taiwan have been toughened by
successive trials and tribulations. A widely shared awareness of the need to be
on guard against the unexpected has kept us from falling into complacency. This
mindset has enabled us to weather all sorts of hardships and adversities, which
is the fundamental reason why Taiwan has stood firm and steady. Now it is time
to take it up a notch. We must further heighten our awareness of the need for
disaster preparedness, and enhance our capacity for action.


Rebuilding cross-strait relations,

expanding our international participation


The past year has witnessed considerable improvements in relations between
Taiwan and mainland China. The prospect of peace across the Taiwan Strait
appears to be at hand. This progress is a result of efforts on both sides. Our
decision to move in this direction is in line with the hopes of the majority of
our people, and has also been very well received by the international community.


Over the past year, working on the pragmatic basis of the "1992 Consensus,"
we have expanded the scope of cross-strait cooperation, and have achieved
greater mutual trust and good will, as evidenced by the signing of nine
agreements covering such topics as visits to Taiwan by mainland tourists, direct
air, sea, and postal links, food safety inspections, and cross-strait legal
assistance. We believe that there remains much work for us to tackle for the
sake of the well-being of our peoples, including negotiation of memorandums of
understanding (MOUs) on financial supervisory cooperation, and an economic
cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).


Cross-strait differences and concerns are rooted in historical factors that
cannot be overcome all at once. To achieve further peaceful development of our
relations, both sides must remain patient, face up to practical realities, and
move forward in a gradual, orderly manner, so as to build mutual trust and find
common ground amid our differences.


A touching and inspirational development in cross-strait interaction was the
surge of relief donations and practical assistance from Taiwan in response to
last year's Sichuan earthquake in mainland China. Taiwan's support for the
relief effort exceeded that of all other nations in terms of either monetary
value or number of volunteers. Then, in response to the disaster inflicted on
Taiwan by Typhoon Morakot in August, mainland China was no less generous in
offering material assistance and donations, likewise exceeding those of all
other nations. Such interaction, reflecting the feeling shared by both peoples
with common ethnic roots that "blood is thicker than water," inspires us to look
forward to future cross-strait developments with confidence and hope.


At the same time, we are well aware that even as we actively pursue peaceful
development of cross-strait relations, some of our citizens worry that our
national sovereignty and interests might be harmed. We are willing to engage in
dialogue via all sorts of channels, including the Legislature and political
parties, in order to forge a public consensus on this government's mainland
China policy. Taiwan is a democratic society, and our foremost guiding principle
in addressing cross-strait issues is to safeguard our national sovereignty and
advance our people's welfare while welcoming the public's and the Legislature's
scrutiny. I am constantly mindful of this responsibility, and will do all in my
power to ensure that it is fulfilled.


Improvement of cross-strait relations is beneficial to our foreign relations,
as all countries, whether or not we have diplomatic ties with them, are all
happy to see an easing of cross-strait tensions. Most of them are also willing
to develop friendly relations with both Taiwan and mainland China. Over the past
year-plus period, we have been promoting a policy of "flexible diplomacy," and
the two sides have demonstrated good will by refraining from attempts to lure
away the other's diplomatic partners. Relations with our diplomatic partners are
gradually becoming more stable, and Taiwan's international status has been
steadily enhanced.


Consequently, we have achieved breakthroughs in the Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting, the Government Procurement
Agreement under the World Trade Organization, and participation in the World
Health Assembly. In May this year, the ROC ratified the United Nations' two 1966
human rights covenants--the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights--for
which we have won praise in international human rights circles.


With regard to our strategy for rejoining the United Nations system, since
last year we have abandoned futile confrontation and adopted as our priority
goal participation in the United Nations' specialized agencies and their
activities so as to substantively enhance Taiwan's participation in and
contributions to the international community. These pragmatic, feasible
approaches have garnered widespread international affirmation and greatly
improved Taiwan's international image and status.


Flexible diplomacy is a diplomacy of integrity, a humanitarian diplomacy, as
well as a soft-power diplomacy. It not only has expanded Taiwan's international
maneuvering room, but has won the respect of the international community. In
July and September of this year, our nation played host, respectively, to the
Eighth World Games in Kaohsiung and the 21st Summer Deaflympics in Taipei. In
both sporting events, our athletes turned in outstanding performances, garnering
record numbers of medals and finishing seventh and fifth, respectively, in the
medal count among the hundred-plus nations that took part in each event.
Moreover, people from everywhere were impressed with the meticulous preparations
carried out by the Taipei and Kaohsiung municipal governments, our central
government's strong support, our numerous volunteers' enthusiasm, and the
Taiwanese people's friendliness and hospitality.


It is little wonder then, that Ron Froehlich, president of the International
World Games Association (IWGA), publicly extolled the Kaohsiung World Games as
the most successful ever; while Donalda Ammoms, president of the International
Sports Committee for the Deaf (ICSD), repeatedly praised the Taipei Summer
Deaflympics as the best-managed in the past 85 years. Moreover, my announcing of
the opening ceremonies of the two games in the capacity of president of the host
nation was also a first for the games. All of this goes to show that so long as
we have real strength and move in the right direction, the whole world will
cheer us on.


Despite the recent dramatic improvement in cross-strait relations, we have
never overlooked the military threat posed by mainland China. We are indeed
actively pursuing peace across the Taiwan Strait, but we shall never sacrifice
Taiwan's national security. Our insistence on the national defense strategy of
"effective deterrence and resolute defense" remains firm. We intend to
energetically develop a professional military based on recruitment of volunteers
to form a compact yet powerful defensive force to protect the security of
Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu.


Developing a Chinese culture

with unique Taiwanese character


My dear friends, looking back over the 98 years of the Republic of China's
history inspires a welter of contrasting feelings. Except for the "golden
decade" immediately following the Northern Expedition, the 38 years during which
the ROC government was based on the mainland was a period of incessant war and
chaos that rendered people destitute and rootless and allowed little opportunity
to put into practice the nation-building ideals of Dr. Sun Yat-sen. Yet, over
the six decades since the ROC government relocated to Taiwan, it has succeeded
in carrying out land reform, implementing universal education, promoting
economic growth, erecting a social welfare system and instituting democratic
constitutional government.


After these 60 years of national development, Taiwan has a robust middle
class, enjoys an open and free media environment, and has a healthy civil
society in which environmental awareness has taken root, while
community-building and volunteerism have developed at a lively pace. Step by
step, we have created a Chinese culture with a unique Taiwanese character--a
heritage belonging to all of us and in which we all can take pride.


During the past six decades, the histories and cultures of the Republic of
China and Taiwan have become thoroughly intertwined. In this context, "Taiwan
spirit" is not a vapid slogan, but is concretely embodied in the values and
character of those who have struggled for this land.


The many individuals who have held resolutely to their convictions over the
past century are exemplars of Taiwan spirit. Examples from the Japanese colonial
period include Lien Ya-tang, the historian who chronicled the early years of
Taiwan history, Chiang Wei-shui, a leading civil rights activist, Mona Rudao,
who fought against colonial oppression, and Lai He, a pioneer of Taiwanese
literature. Notable post-war figures include Chen Cheng, who promoted land
reform, Li Kuo-ting and Sun Yun-suan, who oversaw the transformation of Taiwan's
economy, and the many who struggled for freedom and democracy over the decades
through publications such as Free China magazine and Formosan magazine.


Their spirit lives on today in the athletes who gave their all in the World
Games and Deaflympics; in the donors, volunteers and humanitarian organizations
that donated money and saved lives in the recent disaster; and in the bus
drivers Su Sheng-yu and Hou Wen-tien, whose actions in September saved the lives
of their passengers though they themselves died.


Further, there are those who have taken Taiwan's culture onto the world
stage, such as members of the U-Theatre, the Performance Workshop and the Hsiao
Hsi Yuan Puppet Theater. Similarly, Ju Ming's sculptures, Liao Shiou-ping's
block prints and Liu Kuo-sung's innovative Chinese ink paintings have won
international acclaim, securing for Taiwan a position of respect in the world of
art.


Such examples of Taiwan spirit highlight the core values of the Taiwanese
people and inject Taiwan's vital, unique character into the deepest levels of
Chinese culture. "Taiwan spirit" has enriched the inner essence of Chinese
culture while giving sustenance to Taiwan. It has nurtured you and me, and it
will nourish our descendants. We should, then, treasure one another and walk
forward hand in hand, developing our Taiwan spirit and transmitting it to
posterity.


Inheriting the past, ushering in the future


In another 400-plus days, the Republic of China will enter into its
one-hundredth year as a nation. The cries of those revolutionaries a century ago
still echo in our ears, and the ideals of the nation's founders still gleam
before our eyes. It is still our common vow to build a nation of the people, by
the people and for the people. And solidarity of the people, power to the
people, and prosperity of the people [Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the
People] remain the goals toward which we strive.


In order to celebrate this grand day and to let upcoming generations know
that the Republic will always stand firm through whatever storm comes our way,
and that we will emerge shining brighter from every trial, I hereby announce on
this National Day the establishment of the "Republic of China Centennial
Preparatory Commission" chaired by Vice President Siew to coordinate the public
and private sectors in planning a year-long series of celebratory activities.


My dear compatriots, our confidence is resolute and unwavering, our steps
sure and steady. We shall spare no efforts in carrying forward our various
national development programs, so as to lay a solid foundation for the
Republic's flourishing century to come. In closing, may our nation have great
success and prosperity! And may you and your families all be blessed with
health, peace, and happiness!


Thank you!


【Source: Office of the President】