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President Lee's Message to the Taiwan Retrocession Day
1998-10-24

President Lee Teng-hui stated that over the past 53 years, the Republic of China has strived to build prosperity, democracy and open society in Taiwan, obtaining worldwide affirmation. "This remarkable achievement cannot be credited to any particular individual nor population group, but rather is one belonging to all the people on this soil," he said. "By sweat, tears and toil, they have joined hands to overcome hardship, and struggled to bring about this achievement." He made the remarks in a special speech delivered on the eve of the 53rd anniversary of Taiwan's retrocession.

The President asserted that all those who live and grow on this island are Taiwanese people and the true masters of Taiwan, whether they be aborigines or descendants of immigrants from the Chinese mainland who came over either centuries or decades ago. "They have made equal contributions to Taiwan's development in the past, and share a common responsibility for Taiwan's future," he added.

He said: "Facing the upcoming new century today, we must pool the intelligence and efforts of the government and people, in order to comprehensively materialize our democratic ideals, fully emanate social justice, continue our economic growth and prosperity, build a well-governed peaceful and beautiful homeland, and accomplish our historic mission of sustaining national development into the next century... Only by continuing to build the consensus of the 'new Taiwanese people,' and by rekindling the determined and fearless 'Taiwanese spirit,' can we draw an even grander blueprint for Taiwan's development and open up a brighter future for our descendants."

The videotaped speech of President Lee was broadcast this evening in Chinese, southern Fukien and Hokka languages by local TV channels, and was also aired by the Broadcasting Corporation of China and the Central Broadcasting System of the ROC to their audiences at home and abroad.

The full text of the speech follows:

My dear fellow countrymen:

Peace be with you all.

Today is the eve of the 53rd anniversary of Taiwan's retrocession. I would like to take this opportunity to extend to you my regards, and my appreciation for your contributions to the progress and development of Taiwan over the past 53 years.

To Taiwan, its retrocession day marks not only a change in its destiny, but also the beginning of a new chapter in its history. Only because of this day, can Taiwan and Penghu put an end to the Japanese colonial rule and return to the domain of the Republic of China. Only because of this day, can the Taiwan people shake off the years of misery and be reborn with a renewed sense of self-identity. Only because of this day, can Taiwan become a pure land free of communist pollution and create the Taiwan experience, which will serve as a guidepost for the future development of China. As we commemorate Taiwan's Retrocession Day today, we must profoundly reflect on its historic significance.

Over the past 53 years, we have strived to create prosperity, democracy and open society in Taiwan, and have received the unanimous affirmation of the world community. This remarkable achievement cannot be credited to any particular individual nor any particular population group, but rather is one belonging to all the people on this soil. By sweat, tears and toil, these people have joined hands to overcome hardship, and struggled to bring about this achievement.

Actually, in reviewing the developmental process of Taiwan, all population groups have made equal contributions, regardless of the time of their arrival. Though Taiwan is isolated by seas and difficult to develop, the predecessors of our aboriginal compatriots have created here a glorious culture long ago. During the Ming and Ching dynasties, many coastal residents on the mainland continuously took risks to cross the Taiwan Strait and opened up the wilderness for farming, laying a foundation for the development of Taiwan. With the situation on the Chinese mainland enormously changed in 1949, a great number of soldiers and civilians followed the government to Taiwan, adding a pluralistic force of renascence to Taiwan's development. Therefore, Taiwan's development and achievements are the result of the accumulated intelligence of all our predecessors, and the amalgamation of the efforts of all population groups.

All of us who grow and live on this soil today are Taiwanese people, whether we be aborigines or descendants of the immigrants from the mainland who came over either centuries or decades ago. We all have made equal contributions to Taiwan's development in the past, and share a common responsibility for Taiwan's future. It is a nontransferable duty for each one of us, the "new Taiwanese people," to convert our love and affection for Taiwan into concrete actions in order to open up a grander horizon for its development. It is also our responsibility to establish a magnificent vista for our descendants.

After 53 years of struggle, Taiwan has already walked out from the shadow of history and has created for itself a future full of opportunities. Facing the upcoming new century today, we must pool the intelligence and efforts of the government and people, in order to comprehensively materialize our democratic ideals, fully emanate social justice, sustain our economic growth and prosperity, build a well-governed peaceful and beautiful homeland, and accomplish the historic mission of continuing national development into the next century.

My dear fellow countrymen: Taiwan is our common homeland. Here we live and work, and here lies our future. Only by continuing to build the consensus of the "new Taiwanese people," and by rekindling the determined and fearless "Taiwan spirit," can we draw an even grander blueprint for Taiwan's development and open up a brighter future for our descendants. Let us go forward and work in unison.

Thank you.

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