By The China Post
A translation of the president’s address follows:
National Day Celebration Chairperson Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens watching via TV or the Internet:
Today is the 109th National Day of the Republic of China. This year, because of the pandemic, we have scaled back our celebration. But our fellow citizens, no matter where they are, all extend their heartfelt congratulations to the Republic of China (Taiwan) for making it through a year full of challenges.
Due to the threat of COVID-19, 2020 has been a turbulent year for Taiwan and the world. This global crisis, however, has allowed the international community to see Taiwan’s unique character and capabilities as an Island of Resilience.
We did not lock down our cities, or close down our schools. With pandemic control measures in place, we were one of the few countries in the world to still play professional baseball, and hold major arts and cultural events. We also showed impressive national strength by sending pandemic prevention supplies to countries around the globe.
Since March of this year, Taiwan’s pandemic control performance has been covered in over 3,300 international media reports. This has helped the world to see Taiwan more clearly, and our international image has never been better.
These achievements are a tribute to the unity and cooperation the people of Taiwan have shown. In addition to the medical and quarantine personnel who have worked so hard, we also thank the manufacturing industry for cooperating to produce pandemic prevention supplies, the high-tech industry for developing apps, our pharmacists and convenience store employees for helping distribute face masks, and the public for following our disease control measures in an orderly manner.
We also saw that citizens returning from abroad followed home isolation and quarantine regulations. The hotel industry provided quarantine lodging, the car rental industry provided transportation for people under quarantine, and restaurants and entertainment venues implemented name-based tracing systems. Through unity and a single-minded purpose, we held the line in the fight against the pandemic and made Taiwan a global model.
I know the Taiwanese people were inspired when former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, Czech Republic Senate President Miloš Vystrčil, and US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Under Secretary of State Keith Krach all visited us to convey their respect for Taiwan.
Our successful response to the challenges of the pandemic has proven our nation’s viability during times of adversity and boosted public confidence. More importantly, we have united, because we are well aware of the importance of defending our homeland. So this year has been decidedly difficult, but also very rewarding.
For this year’s National Day Celebration, we have invited heroes in the fight against COVID-19 from all walks of life to lead us in singing the national anthem. We know many of their stories well, like nurse Lai Pi-lien (賴碧蓮) wearing the pressure marks from her face mask as a badge of honor, and the touching tale of nurse Chang Wan-erh (張莞爾), who escorted a child with hemophilia back to Taiwan, but hid her mission from her family.
And there are many more unreported stories about unsung heroes in the battle against COVID-19, too many to tell. Please join me in giving them a warm round of applause, and thank them once again for all they have done for Taiwan.
Because the pandemic was properly controlled, Taiwan became one of the few countries in the world that maintained positive economic growth. We have also prepared for economic development in the post-pandemic era, proactively planning and promoting our Six Core Strategic Industries. We have already planned out the step-by-step allocation of our Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program special budget, and stepped up the pace of implementation.
What inspires us most is that our citizens and companies have more confidence in Taiwan’s economic development. The long-term capital outflow trend has been completely reversed.
We have been welcoming the largest wave of reshoring in decades by Taiwan companies, with investments worth more than NT$1 trillion, along with over a hundred billion NT dollars in overseas funds being repatriated. Many foreign companies and well-known multinational corporations are also increasing their investments in Taiwan. And all of these are on-going right now.
We have also made substantive progress in international economic and trade cooperation. Taiwan and the United States will hold a high-level economic dialogue to identify future cooperation opportunities in the realignment of global supply chains, technological cooperation, infrastructure, and other areas.
Last week, Taiwan and the United States jointly announced the signing of a Framework to Strengthen Infrastructure Finance and Market Building Cooperation.
Under that agreement, we will jointly participate in infrastructure projects in the Americas and the Indo-Pacific region. The deepening of Taiwan-US economic cooperation has thus entered the action phase – the beginning of our pursuit of comprehensive breakthroughs in international economic and trade cooperation.
But I also want to remind everyone: The global pandemic is not over yet. The complex economic and social challenges it has brought to all countries remain severe.
The future holds even greater challenges waiting to be overcome. Post-pandemic global economic recovery, lifestyle changes, dramatic changes in global and regional trade, and the realignment of the global economic order will all test our economic staying power and overall adaptability.
To address the greatest internal and external changes we have seen in decades, Taiwan will continue to show resilience, and the government will take the helm and lead the way forward with three major strategies to create the new Taiwan economy we all aspire to.
First, we will fully and comprehensively participate in supply chain reorganization. The rapid dismantling and realignment of global supply chains is now irreversible, and Taiwanese businesses around the world are moving toward segmented markets, production base migration, and reshoring to invest in Taiwan at an ever-faster pace.
Our on-going implementation of the 5+2 innovative industries plan, Six Core Strategic Industries, trillion NT-dollar investment program, New Southbound Policy, Taiwan-US economic cooperation, and participation in regional economic integration are all closely related to supply chain realignment.
We will link all of these related policies and programs while integrating government and private sector resources with cross-department capabilities to achieve full and comprehensive participation in the realignment process, making Taiwan an indispensable force in global supply chains.
Second, we want to make Taiwan a hub for international capital, talent, and digital technology. In the future, the critical factors in supply chain realignment will be capital, talent, and core technologies for the digital economy.
We will continue to deepen reforms and eliminate obstacles to create an environment and legal structure to attract international capital and talent. We will also actively cultivate domestic industrial talent through international exchanges, industry-academia cooperation, and a bilingual nation policy.
In addition, we will leverage Taiwan’s strengths in ICT, semiconductors, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence to develop and control core technologies and accelerate the digital transformation of industry and the economy.
Third, we will do our utmost to balance economic and social development. The post-pandemic economy and industry run the risk of unbalanced development, while there may also be repercussions from a massive increase in capital supply.
The government will therefore put greater emphasis on the reasonable distribution of resources, take care of the disadvantaged affected by our economic transformation, strengthen and spur youth employment, and encourage and effectively utilize funding to bring back Taiwan’s economic growth dividend for everyone to share.
Of course, Taiwan’s economic prospects also depend on regional peace and stability. We are aware that showing weakness and making concessions will not bring peace. Adequate preparation and reliance on the determination and strength of solid national defense capabilities is the only way to guarantee Taiwan’s security and maintain regional peace.
The guiding principles behind our current national defense strategy are to enhance national defense capabilities and lower the risk of military conflict. For some time now, harassment by air and sea from the other side has raised tensions in the Taiwan Strait. But our national military has closely monitored the situation and responded promptly, achieving their defense mission.
Over the past few years, whenever I have had time, I have visited the officers and enlisted personnel in our military units, from air force radar stations on distant mountain tops to naval fleets patrolling the seas, and from army unit artillery drills in the field to the academies training our young non-commissioned officers.
I do that not only to thank our military personnel working around the clock to protect the nation, but even more, to let citizens know that our military are our family, and the staunchest backers of our national sovereignty, freedom, and democracy.
Throughout my interactions with our men and women in uniform, many stories strengthened my confidence. I remember being in the alert room at an air force unit on the front lines where the pilots, always prepared for emergency service, confidently told me that, “The air force has our air defense covered.”
I also remember at an army engineer training center, I saw a female officer lead her fellow engineers with the kind of spirit that can carve a road through any mountain or build a bridge over any body of water. At the Navy Underwater Operations Unit, men and women wearing heavy equipment fearlessly dove to the ocean floor to remove obstacles.
This is the Republic of China’s military. Whether they are on the front line or in logistics, male or female, they are all children of Taiwan and committed to safeguarding our nation.
In recent times, some of our brothers and sisters in uniform were injured or even lost their lives while carrying out their duties. We remember their dedication with gratitude and are proud of our military for their bravery and sense of responsibility.
As commander-in-chief, I always have the future of our military and our military of the future in my heart.
We will continue to modernize defensive combat capabilities and accelerate the upgrading of our asymmetrical capabilities to deal with military expansion and provocation from the other side of the Taiwan Strait. As we procure military hardware, we still remain dedicated to promoting our national self-defense capabilities. We have also already made substantial progress in manufacturing advanced training aircraft and submarines. We take a dual-track approach to strengthen our defensive capabilities.
We have not only upgraded our military hardware capabilities but even more importantly, we are focusing on cultivating high-quality personnel. In addition to improving the professionalism of our volunteer officers and soldiers, we need to establish an effective reservist system to enhance the quality and capabilities of our military personnel.
I am sure that many reservists recently on active duty for training feel that the process has been streamlined. Next on the agenda will be the rapid implementation of reserve and mobilization system reforms based on the principle of integrating standing and reservist forces.
In order to avoid potential conflicts due to miscalculations or accidents, we will address threats to regional peace and stability by upholding our principle of neither fearing nor seeking war.
The Ministry of National Defense will report on People’s Liberation Army activities when appropriate, exchange information with neighboring countries, and strengthen security partnerships. The Ministry will also keep the public informed about the situation in the Taiwan Strait, solidifying overall national defense.
For some time we have all been paying close attention to changes in regional security. From sovereignty disputes in the South and East China Seas and the China-India border conflict to developments in the Taiwan Strait, as well as the “Hong Kong version of the National Security Law” that has garnered international concern, it is clear that democracy, peace and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific are currently facing serious challenges.
Countries in this region have forged various alliances to ensure that their national security and democratic systems are not affected by external influences. This has already caused unprecedented changes to the region.
We must turn this testing time into a historical opportunity. Our commitment to our sovereignty and democratic values will not change, but we will also maintain strategic flexibility and be responsive to changes.
As circumstances change, advance preparation is the only way to exercise control over the future, and not just drift with the current or have others decide our fate.
We will play an active role in establishing new regional and international orders. We will forge alliances based on shared values and friendly ties throughout the international community, and continue to enhance partnerships with like-minded and friendly nations. We will also participate more actively in regional and international multilateral cooperation and dialogues.
The most important values the Republic of China (Taiwan) stands for in the region are upholding peace and promoting economic development. We want to be an advocate for the forces of good, and share our progressive and good faith values with the whole world.
I am also aware that the leader across the Strait has publicly stated in a video message to the United Nations General Assembly that China will never seek hegemony, expansion, or a sphere of influence.
As countries in the region and around the world are now concerned about China’s expanding hegemony, we hope this is the beginning of genuine change.
At this critical time when the entire world has grave concerns about Indo-Pacific and cross-strait developments, if Beijing can heed Taiwan’s voice, change the way it handles cross-strait relations, and jointly facilitate cross-strait reconciliation and peaceful dialogue, I believe that regional tension can surely be resolved.
In addressing cross-strait relations, we will not act rashly, and will uphold our principles. Maintaining stability in cross-strait relations is in the best interests of both sides. We are committed to upholding cross-strait stability, but this is not something Taiwan can shoulder alone; it is the joint responsibility of both sides.
At this stage, the most pressing cross-strait issue is to discuss how we can live in peace and coexist based on mutual respect, goodwill and understanding. As long as the Beijing authorities are willing to resolve antagonisms and improve cross-strait relations, while parity and dignity are maintained, we are willing to work together to facilitate meaningful dialogue. This is what the people of Taiwan advocate, and it is a cross-party consensus.
It is clear that public opinion in Taiwan about external relations and national security is now converging. The Taiwanese people all hope for regional peace and prosperity that are stable and sustainable.
The same is true for the ruling and opposition parties. For example, an opposition party’s recent resolutions to advance Taiwan-US relations were supported by both the ruling and opposition party caucuses, and passed without objection. The mayors of our six special municipalities also came together in unanimous opposition when an international organization downgraded Taiwan’s status, and succeeded in getting that organization to correct the error. These are all examples of cross-party cooperation, uniting to express our point of view.
Through these examples, I would like to appeal to and invite all of our domestic political parties to join forces and work together. Domestically, we compete with one another and have opposing viewpoints—this is normal in a democracy. But for the nation’s continued survival and development, and for the values of freedom and democracy, we should unify to address external issues, cooperating to lead the country to rise above adversity.
Just like everything Taiwan has experienced over the past 71 years, hardships have forged our resiliency, and challenges have inspired our resolve. This pandemic can consolidate a sense of unity among Taiwanese, and give us the courage to continue moving forward.
We have contained the spread of the virus, developed economic strategies, stabilized the region, and protected Taiwan’s security. For what reason? Because we want to pass on a strong country to our next generation.
At this year’s Golden Melody Awards we witnessed the creativity and vitality of our dynamic younger generation. They used various musical styles, confidently singing in their native languages, which reflects their values on many different issues. This was especially evident for the album “Kinakaian (Mother Tongue)”, which was honored as album of the year.
Even though these young creatives have different styles, they can all light up the stage with the finest interpretations of Taiwan’s diverse cultures. And this is all supported by our free and democratic society.
All of our striving is for Taiwan’s next generation, so that they and the generations that follow can show their self-confidence through their creations. They can be proud of the culture and values of our homeland, and courageously engage with the world.
On this National Day, let’s all make a wish together. Let’s wish that 20 years from now, when Taiwanese look back on 2020, they will remember this as the year we grasped a generational opportunity, bravely forging ahead in rapidly changing times to overcome challenges and throw off our shackles, giving them a chance to determine their own future.
Starting today, let’s all join together, keeping in step. If there’s a path, let’s follow it, singing along the way. If there’s no path, let’s ford the stream, scale the hill, and keep moving toward the light.
Happy birthday to the Republic of China! Thank you.