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President and Madame Lee Host Dinner Party for Diplomatic Corps

President and Madame Lee Teng-hui this evening invited the diplomatic corps in the Republic of China for a dinner at the Presidential Building to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

The President made a speech before the dinner. The full text is as follows:

Your Excellencies and Madame Ambassadors; Distinguished And Madame Representatives; Premier and Madame Siew; Secretary General and Madame Huang; Minister and Madame Hu; Ladies and Gentlemen: Happy New Year.

I am delighted that our distinguished guests can join us this evening to celebrate the Chinese New Year. According to the Chinese Lunar calendar, this is the year of the tiger, a magnificent but fiercely courageous animal. There is an old Chinese adage, "In movement, the wind rises at the tiger's howl, cowering the crowd with awe." Here, the tiger represents the forces of justice and heroism. Hence, at this onset of the year of the tiger, I want to wish all the ambassadors, representatives and their spouses here tonight-tiger-like vitality and good fortune for the new year. At the same time, I hope that the international community will give greater support and affirmation for justice and courage.

To the Chinese people, New Year is a time for thanksgiving. First, I would like to take a moment to express my appreciation to all of you for your contributions this past year to improving ties between your countries and the Republic of China. With your support and assistance, the relations between the Republic of China and the international community grow closer each day, and our friendship with each of your countries also grows stronger every day.

In this new year, we will continue to push forward various reforms to lay the foundation for an enduring and peaceful constitutional system. We are gradually implementing the rationalization of our government institutions and expect the consequent increases in government efficiency and national competitiveness to follow shortly. I would like also to refer you to my New Year's Day Message in which I discussed our very important five national objectives for this year.

Turning to the economy -- although the recent Asian financial turmoil had a relatively minor impact on the Republic of China, we will nevertheless continue to act responsibly as a member of the Asian community and embrace the spirit of cooperation. Through feasible bilateral or multilateral mechanisms, we will actively join hands with neighboring countries to weather this crisis and do our best to work for the peaceful coexistence and collective prosperity of the Asian-Pacific region.

Regarding cross-strait relations, we are eagerly hoping that both sides can resume cross-strait dialogue without preconditions attached and at the earliest possible time, so that we can jointly work for the peace and stability of the West Pacific region. We want to reaffirm our resolute opposition to the so-called "one country, two systems" formula. Rather, we hope to expand cross-strait relations and promote regional stability and development under the principles of peace, cooperation and prosperity.

Presently, the Republic of China is promoting its plan to become the Asia Pacific Regional Operations Center with the anticipation to strengthen our cooperation and exchanges with friendly nations and to increase reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations so that we collectively advance global prosperity and development. We also hope that your countries will continue to support and affirm the endeavors of the Republic of China to strive for a space for existence and development in the international community.

Now, please join me in a toast to wish each other a Happy New Year, and the success and prosperity of all our countries. Thank you all.

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