President Tsai's 2016 National Day Address
Achieving Reforms to Make the Country Great
Chairperson for the National Day Celebration Mr. Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全, also Legislative Yuan President), distinguished guests, my fellow countrymen watching on television and online:
Good morning to you all!
Today is the 105th National Day of the Republic of China. I want to specially thank our international guests who have come far, and our overseas compatriots who have come home to Taiwan. Thank you all for being here with us to witness this grand national celebration.
My special thanks also to Mr. Chen Chin-feng (陳金鋒, Taiwanese baseball star). Today he left his familiar baseball field and led all of us in singing the national anthem. He is a true hero in the hearts of all Taiwanese people.
Today, on our country’s birthday, I pay my deepest respect to all those who have sacrificed and given themselves to this land.
This country has been through authoritarian rule and social conflict, and it has endured sharp differences on the question of national identity. Looking back, we are filled with gratitude. And now, the new government shoulders the responsibility to transform and renew this country.
In my May 20 inaugural address, I said that “to change young people’s predicament is to change a country’s predicament.” This has been at the core of every reform we have initiated in the recent months.
Young people worry that housing costs too much and adds too heavy a burden, so we get to work expanding social housing – 80,000 units within the next four years, and a projected 200,000 within the next eight. Like in many advanced countries, access to social housing will become universal in Taiwan.
Young people want to accelerate their careers, so the government must enable them to do so free of worry. Their elderly at home need care, so we get to work building a long-term care system. Their kids at home also need care, so we get to work promoting a daycare program.
Our pension system may go bankrupt, so we face this problem head-on with the utmost seriousness and caution. After pension reform, young people will bear a relatively lighter burden, and they will not have to fear that they are paying into the system for nothing. This country will, in a fair manner, guarantee a post-retirement life of dignity for every citizen.
The same rationale underpins our effort on transitional justice. The new government must usher in a new beginning for Taiwan’s democratic politics, and give our young people a healthy and diverse democracy. That is the true meaning of our work on transitional justice.
In addition to the above policies, which are underway, we are also working to revitalize our economy and industry. We have proposed “5+2 innovative industries” driven by innovation, research and development. Recently, these plans and their associated regulatory adjustments have been launched one by one. Our goal is clear: to create quality job opportunities for our young people, and to elevate their salaries.
Industrial transformation is the fundamental means to revitalize this country’s economy, and we will not waver from its pursuit. The road ahead is long, but we are determined to overcome all difficulties. The government has proposed measures to expand investment. With a multi-pronged approach that includes improving the investment environment, stimulating private sector investment, strengthening investment by state-run enterprises, and boosting innovation, we will turn around an economy that has stagnated for years.
Our efforts have begun to yield results. Just last week, at the 2016 Taiwan Business Alliance Conference in Taipei, foreign investors signaled their intention to invest more in Taiwan than they have done in years. Thanks to our firm resolve and courage to reform, foreign investors’ confidence in Taiwan has been reignited. We ourselves hold the key to Taiwan’s economic revitalization and industrial transformation.
Dear fellow countrymen: a road of reform is certain to have ups and downs. But I call earnestly on all of you: do not let the ups and downs get you to lose hope in Taiwan.
This is the first time that all of us in this country can sit down together, and truly reflect on what sort of country we wish to leave to our young generation. We must not let this opportunity slip from our grasp. The power to decide is in the hands of this generation.
The new government’s blueprint is clear. Everything we have done in the past few months has been to lift this country out of stagnation. Industrial transformation will lead Taiwan’s economic development forward. The social safety net will ensure security for citizens. Pension reform will ensure the nation’s financial health and the people’s retirement life. Transitional justice will enable our democracy to begin anew. At the same time, we are hard at work preparing for judicial reform; once the Judicial Yuan’s new leadership is in place, reform will accelerate.
We will persist in taking this country forward. Our direction is set, so we continue forward and will never back down.
The people of Taiwan aspire to peace, pursue democracy, and long to go out into the world and do our part for the international community.
After the new government took office, I visited our diplomatic allies Paraguay and Panama under the principle of “steadfast diplomacy” and “mutual assistance for mutual benefits”. I met with the heads of state or deputy heads of state from many countries including Panama, Paraguay, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Belize, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Vice President Chen Chien-jen also paid visits to the Dominican Republic and the Holy See. Our hope is that diplomacy will not be about one-way giving, but about mutually-beneficial cooperation that we plan and build together with our allies for the good of both.
We are going proactively into the world. Although the path to participation in international organizations is not easy, we will remain steadfast and march on. Taiwan has never been absent on important global issues. Even under pressure, we still stand with all major democratic countries in our desire to contribute meaningfully to humanity.
Over the past months, we have worked with friendly nations to organize several international events. These events have addressed disease prevention and treatment, energy efficiency, women’s empowerment, and e-commerce training aimed at narrowing digital divides in the region. With concrete action we are contributing to regional development. During this period, we have also actively engaged different countries in discussion on disaster prevention and rescue, maritime search and rescue and many other maritime cooperation issues, so as to build up momentum for regional cooperation. Taiwan’s ability to contribute to the international community is a point of great pride for the Taiwanese people.
Since May 20, the new government has seen our relationships with the U.S., Japan, Europe and other democracies grow substantially, and these countries are supporting Taiwan’s international participation more strongly than in the past. Here and on behalf of our country, I want to convey to these dear international friends the gratitude of the Taiwanese people.
At the same time, we aim to redefine Taiwan’s role in the Asia-Pacific region, and identify a new driving force for growth. So we are actively promoting our New Southbound Policy with well-defined policy guidelines and implementation plans. We will build stronger and mutually-beneficial partnerships with the nations of Southeast Asia and South Asia, Australia and New Zealand in the areas of economics and trade, science and technology, education, culture, tourism and more. Through mechanisms for wide-ranging negotiation and dialogue, we will build consensus for cooperation and reduce barriers.
In the process of regional development, our role is different from that of mainland China. Taiwan has substantial experience and advantages in talent cultivation, agricultural development, science and technology innovation, medical care, SMEs and other fields, and we will take full advantage of these to contribute actively to regional development. On regional infrastructure development and in multilateral economic and trade cooperation, we are also willing to negotiate and cooperate with the other side of the Taiwan Strait, to jointly forge historical milestones.
On cross-strait relations, I once again reiterate the immovable position of the new government, and that is to establish a consistent, predictable and sustainable cross-strait relationship, and to maintain both Taiwan’s democracy and the status quo of peace across the Taiwan Strait.
Maintaining the status quo is the pledge I made to voters. Not a single sentence from my inaugural address on May 20 has ever changed. The new government will conduct cross-strait affairs in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of China, the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and other relevant legislation. And we will spare no effort in maintaining mechanisms for dialogue and communication across the Taiwan Strait.
We respect the historical fact that in 1992, the two institutions representing each side across the strait (SEF & ARATS) met, and we advocate that both sides must collectively cherish and sustain the accumulated outcomes enabled by over twenty years of cross-strait interactions and negotiations since 1992, and continuously promote the stable and peaceful development of the cross-strait relationship based on such existing political foundations. I also call on the two governing parties across the strait to set aside the baggage of history, and engage in positive dialogue for the benefit of people on both sides.
Although cross-strait relations have seen certain ups and downs in the past months, our position remains consistent and firm. Our pledges will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation. This is our fundamental attitude toward maintaining the status quo, and it is based on the collective hope for peace across the Taiwan Strait.
I want to stress that maintaining the status quo has a more proactive meaning: With deepening democracy as foundation, we will take proactive and forward-looking measures to promote constructive exchanges and dialogue across the strait, in order to build a peaceful and stable cross-strait relationship that endures.
I call upon the authorities of mainland China to face up to the reality that the Republic of China exists, and that the people of Taiwan have an unshakable faith in the democratic system. The two sides of the strait should sit down and talk as soon as possible. Anything can be included for discussion, as long as it is conducive to the development of cross-strait peace and the welfare of people on both sides. Leaders on both sides should jointly display wisdom and flexibility, and with a calm attitude, bring together a divided present toward a win-win future.
Since May 20, more than a hundred days have passed. Step by step, many tasks have begun. Here I want to say a special word of thanks to the team at the Executive Yuan led by Premier Lin Chuan (林全). There is no shortcut to reform. Reforms that take shortcuts are usually not genuine reforms. In order to truly transform and renew this country, the new government chooses to proceed step-by-step with pragmatism and unwavering purpose. Whatever is not right, we fix it. Whatever is right, we stay the course and fear neither ridicule nor reproach. That, I believe, would be the kind of government that the people of Taiwan hoped for.
In June this year, while I was on a state visit to Paraguay, President Horacio Cartes said to me: “Your country is much bigger than you imagine.” Here at the conclusion of my address, I present these words to all of you, my fellow countrymen. Our mission now is to instill in the people of Taiwan the belief that, through reform, this country will achieve greatness.
Thank you all. May our country enjoy continued prosperity and progress.