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President Ma attends 2015 World Freedom Day celebrations

On the morning of January 23 President Ma Ying-jeou attended the 2015 World Freedom Day celebrations organized by the World League for Freedom and Democracy (WLFD). During the event, the president commented that freedom and democracy can only be truly realized in a peaceful environment, and that the ROC government will continue to promote interaction and cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait so that Taiwan and mainland China can both speak the language of peace.

In remarks, President Ma, on behalf of the government and people of the ROC, extended a warm welcome to the guests from around the world who came to Taiwan to participate in this event. He stated that the government has designated January 23 of each year as Freedom Day to commemorate the over 14,000 Communist Chinese prisoners of the Korean War who decided to seek freedom in Taiwan in 1954, as well as to uphold the values of freedom and democracy. When founded in 1954, the WLFD was known as the Asian Pacific Anti-Communist League. The organization has amended its name twice, and become an important member in the United Nations Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations system. The president noted that the WLFD has long made distinguished contributions in encouraging people throughout the world to seek freedom and democracy.

President Ma remarked that the ROC continues to pursue freedom and democracy despite heavy pressure from mainland China. Over the years, the ROC has lifted martial law and subsequently instituted direct presidential elections, enabling freedom and democracy to gradually take root in Taiwan. The US human rights organization Freedom House, in its Freedom in the World 2014 report, assigned Taiwan a score of "1" in the "political rights" category, the highest score possible, and a score of "2" in civil liberties. For the 16th consecutive year, Taiwan's overall score put it in the "free and democratic" category, on par with highly democratized nations in Western Europe, the United States, and Japan. This shows that the ROC has already become a fully democratic nation.

The president emphasized that freedom and democracy are universal values. Past experience shows that only in a peaceful environment can freedom and democracy be realized. As he noted, while the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are under separate rule, the development of freedom and democracy in Taiwan, along with the government's promotion of a cross-strait policy emphasizing peace, has enabled conflict between the two sides to be supplanted gradually by peace. He also stated that 60 years ago the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait were considered as East Asian flash points. Today, however, while tensions continue on the Korean Peninsula, the Taiwan Strait has already become an avenue of peace.

Lastly, President Ma commented that the World Freedom Day celebrations held each year by the WLFD help to promote the values of freedom and democracy. He expressed hope that all the guests will take advantage of their visit here to enhance their understanding of the development of Taiwan's democracy, society, and culture.

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