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President Ma Ying-jeou's National Day Address

October 10, 2008
Vice President Siew, Presidents of the Five Yuans, Ministers, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good morning!
Today, the 97th National Day of the Republic of China, we celebrate the founding of our nation with joyful hearts. At the same time, we must also be prepared to resolutely face the formidable challenges posed by global economic events and set long-term goals for our nation's development. Only then can we fashion a vision for our future.
Over the past 97 years, our nation has undergone many severe trials. We have traversed an era of national partition, have been buffeted by the whirlwinds of two world wars, and have suffered pain and hardship during the Chinese Civil War. On Taiwan, however, we have steadfastly upheld the ideals of our nation's founding father, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, engaging in democratic reform at every governmental level nationwide. In March of this year, Taiwan accomplished its second change of government, enabling our democracy to evolve in the direction of greater maturity and stability. Intolerance for corruption and insistence on clean government have become our common values. The country has become not only a model for democracy in Asia, but also a beacon of democracy for Chinese people everywhere. This is the historic achievement of all of the 23 million people of Taiwan.
Since taking office in May, this administration has been keenly aware of the desire of our citizenry for good governance. Four months on, gaps yet remain between measures adopted and the expectations of our people. To fulfill their hopes, we must remain humble and engage in self-reflection, while continuing to expedite reform, enhance competitiveness, revitalize the economy, and rebuild confidence.
First of all, we need to come to grips with the fact that Taiwan is now facing unprecedented economic challenges. The current financial crisis is one of those that, in the words of former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, comes once in a century. In this age of globalization, it is impossible for Taiwan to avoid coming under its influence. To help the private sector get through these difficult times, this government is exploring all possible avenues.
After taking office, this administration immediately launched programs to stimulate the economy through boosting domestic demand, assisting low-income groups, and other approaches. We have also taken forceful measures to conserve energy and reduce carbon-dioxide emissions. In the span of just these few months, our fuel consumption has fallen by one-fifth. More crucial, however, is the imperative to carry out forward-looking, long-term reform.
Just as past oil crises presented Taiwan with opportunities for transformation and development, so too must we meet today's global challenges by initiating large-scale infrastructure projects and revamping our industries to buttress our national strength and reinvent our economy. In response to global changes, we have adopted a policy of liberalization and deregulation, whereby people and capital can flow into and out of the country more freely, and enterprises can deploy around the globe more boldly.
Concerning basic infrastructure, this government aims to invest vigorously in construction projects that will improve Taiwan's living environment. These include working on river engineering projects, rebuilding roads and bridges, integrating public transportation networks, and rejuvenating local industries. These and other projects are clearly outlined in the "i-Taiwan 12 Projects." We will invest an increasing amount of resources to complete these projects in stages so as to lay a solid foundation for the next cycle of robust economic development.
With regard to reinventing our economy, this government will create a sound investment environment for the private sector. Besides the construction of essential infrastructure, this entails the creation of mechanisms for cultivating talents and the introduction of government policies to encourage private-sector development. We will support the transformation of certain key types of enterprises such as those concerned with conserving energy and reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, those in the cultural and creative industries, high-tech businesses, the biotechnology industry, and the tourism sector. The government will also strive to revitalize traditional industries by providing them with resources and services in a timely manner.
These efforts to spur transformation and long-term development cannot produce results overnight. Yet, just like the Ten Major Construction Projects of three decades ago that laid the groundwork for Taiwan's "economic miracle," this administration's policy direction and vision are crystal clear: building a future for generations to come and laying a solid foundation for Taiwan's prosperity in the 21st century.
The new administration has taken heed of the public's grievance over corruption in the past. We not only will be law-abiding, but also will hold ourselves to a higher standard, in order to restore the core values of incorruptibility, integrity, honesty, and trustworthiness. Already, we have begun to implement a set of Code of Ethics for Civil Servants to strictly regulate public servants' conduct with respect to social gatherings and the giving and receiving of gifts. To ensure the proper functioning of the five branches of the central government in accordance with the ROC Constitution, after this administration took office, it quickly reactivated the operations of the Control Yuan, thus enabling this independent organ to once again exercise its oversight mandate.
To safeguard social justice and take care of disadvantaged families, this government has implemented the annuitized labor pension system, which covers 8.8 million workers. Further, a number of other programs have either been launched or are in the works, such as the national pension system; a program to benefit low-income people; a plan to work with community and charity groups to help the disadvantaged; benefits for first-time home buyers; support for people who cannot afford National Health Insurance premiums; and the expanded subsidization of lunches for schoolchildren. In short, this government is determined to take care of all socially disadvantaged groups and make Taiwan a beautiful home in which everybody can enjoy security, stability, and peace of mind.
Concerning relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait have resumed consultations on the basis of the "1992 Consensus" after a hiatus of ten years. Our efforts to alleviate cross-strait confrontation, create a new dynamic for peace, and enhance stability in East Asia have won the international community's affirmation. Holding fast to the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people," and guided by a policy of liberalization and deregulation, we have pushed forward with direct cross-strait charter flights, visits by tour groups from mainland China, expansion of the "mini-three-links," and encouragement of Taiwan's businesspeople overseas to list their companies on Taiwan's stock markets. The aim of these initiatives is to create a more open, stable environment for cross-strait interaction.
In the realm of foreign relations, we have replaced the previous confrontational foreign policy style with a diplomacy of the possible as the core of our foreign policy. Our aim has been to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of China, strengthen ties with our diplomatic allies, and improve our substantive relationships with friendly nations—in particular, to re-establish mutual trust and promote bilateral security cooperation between Taiwan and the United States. Further, we handled the recent Diaoyutai Archipelago incident in an appropriate manner, ensuring justice and dignity for the people of Taiwan, while laying a foundation for nurturing a "special partnership" between Taiwan and Japan. At the same time, we have gradually developed our foreign relations and participated with flexibility in more international organizations and activities, thereby expanding our international space. Regarding national defense, we adhere to the principle of "resolute defense and effective deterrence." We are working to strengthen our modern defense capabilities, move forward with the creation of an all-volunteer force, reinforce a sense of honor among our soldiers, and instill in the men and women of our armed forces a firm faith in the meaningfulness of their service in protection of the nation.
We have unshakeable confidence in Taiwan. Taiwan's Olympic taekwondo competitor Su Li-wen is one reason among many. Her persistence enabled her to pick herself up even after her 11th fall. Courage is what inspired Cape No. 7 movie director Wei Te-shen to realize his cinematic dream. It is passion that has driven Ming Hwa Yuan to bring Taiwanese Opera to stages around the world. And then there are the idealism and creativity of countless other talented people that push them to strive for a better future for Taiwan. All are manifestations of the determination and bravery that constitute the "Taiwan Spirit." This spirit is our most precious asset and the wellspring of our collective strength. We are blessed with a very industrious, pragmatic people and with dynamic entrepreneurs eager to do business all over the globe. Our economic fundamentals are strong, our industrial base solid, our fighting spirit unbreakable. We have confidence to revitalize our economy and bring prosperity back to Taiwan again.
The courageous see crises as challenges and opportunities for transformation. Over its 97-year history, the Republic of China has prevailed against difficulties much more formidable than the ones we face today, yet here we stand tall, having created an economic miracle in Asia and established a model democracy. Today, we find ourselves at a turning point in history. Let us, then, strive as one, with unbounded courage and wisdom, to meet challenges, ride out storms, and together ensure better lives for our descendents and peace for all.
In closing, let me wish our nation great success and prosperity!
And may all of us be blessed with health, peace, and happiness!
Thank you!
【Source: Office of the President】