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President Lee's National Day Message 
President Lee's National Day Message 

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Today is the 85th National Day of the Republic of China. We are gathered here to joyfully celebrate the 85th birthday of our nation, and solemnly remember the hardships of our predecessors in nation building, as we reflect on the spirit with which this nation was founded.

One century ago, Dr. Sun Yat-sen led a national revolution to create a nation "of the people, by the people, and for the people," which, after countless setbacks, ultimately resulted in the overthrow of the Manchu government 85 years ago and the establishment of the Republic of China. However, although our nation was nominally a democratic republic at the time, democracy and the rule of law remained a distant dream. It was not until a few years ago that my 21.3 million compatriots of the Republic of China on Taiwan, with unparalleled determination, overcame difficulty after difficulty, and worked together to promote democratic reform. This culminated in the Republic of China holding its first direct popular presidential and vice presidential election on March 23, 1996, genuinely realizing the nation-building ideal of "popular sovereignty," and opening a brilliant new chapter in the history of the Chinese people. Accordingly, we celebrate here not only the 85 years that the Republic of China has proudly stood firm, but also our ascent to the summit of democracy, whence democracy and freedom illuminate the Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu area and guide the Chinese people to greater developmental accomplishments in the future.

Nevertheless, the road to democracy is never ending. While our realization of a direct presidential and vice presidential popular election in the ROC was the perfect culmination of our democratic reform, it also initiated the next step in democratic development. Our successful constitutional reform created the first stage of the "Taiwan experience." The major thrust of the second stage will involve consolidating democratic institutions and putting democratic development on a sound footing.

The goal of constitutional reform was to bring the ideals of democracy to fruition, while the institutionalization of democratic development is to safeguard the fruits of democracy. We must understand that democracy is more than just a political system, it is a way of life. Only when the ideals of democracy are deeply inculcated in the mind can they continually grow, and only when democratic institutions are firmly anchored at the grassroots can they last long. In recent years, therefore, I have done all I can to promote educational, judicial, and administrative reforms, in the hope that starting from the bedrock of national education, popular lifestyles, and social functioning, we can build up an enduring democratic system and create the second stage of the Taiwan experience.

Over more than four decades, all my fellow citizens have, without discrimination, come together and made every effort to move forward step by step over this strip of land, creating a new vista of freedom, democracy, and prosperity. We are confident and determined that we will continue to combine the vitality of our 21.3 million fellow citizens and create an even more brilliant prospect for our nation!

Ladies and gentlemen, freedom, democracy, peace and cooperation are the common norms and values of all human beings. They are also our fundamental objectives for promoting democratization. Our democratic achievements in the Taiwan, Penghu, Kingmen and Matsu area have allowed us to hold our heads high before the world community, and have set an example for developing nations. Today, the Republic of China is able and willing to participate in the economic and democratic development of the global community by means of its successful developmental experience, and to do its part for the prosperity of world civilization. Therefore, we have spared no effort in strengthening ties of friendship and cooperative relations with various countries of the world, in actively participating in international activities, and in seeking entry to international organizations. We hope to exert our due influence within the world community, work closely to advance with other countries, and jointly create a new civilized climate of peace, cooperation and prosperity.

Regrettably, the Chinese communist authorities ignore the right of our 21.3 million people to exist, and stubbornly deny our warm devotion to world civilization. They constantly utilize power politics to undermine our international status and hinder our attempts to raise our international profile. This sort of behavior swims against the world tide of democracy and freedom; it does no good for the prosperity and development of the global community, harms feelings between the people on each side of the Taiwan Strait, and is detrimental to national reunification.

The existence and development of the Republic of China on Taiwan is a fact witnessed by the whole world; it is also an undeniable fact that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland are ruled by two distinct governments. Only when the two sides start from an acknowledgement of these facts, step up communication, and promote cooperation can we gradually build a foundation for future national reunification. This is also the principal reason why in recent years we have actively developed cross-strait exchanges. In my inaugural address on May 20 of this year, I explicitly pointed out that the both sides should "face facts and engage in dialogue with the greatest sincerity and patience to resolve differences and find solutions…." I also solemnly called for "the two sides to deal straightforwardly with the momentous question of how to terminate the state of hostility between them…." Moreover, I expressed my willingness to embark upon a "journey of peace" to the Chinese mainland, and my readiness to "meet with the top leadership in Peking for a direct exchange of views...," fully demonstrating our sincerity about improving cross-strait relations. Nonetheless, the Chinese communist authorities remain unable to set aside their prejudices and face the fact that both sides co-exist, thus preventing cross-strait relations from moving ahead.

Although cross-strait issue is a historical problem, the situation in the Taiwan Strait has become a new subject of common concern for Asian nations following the end of the Cold War. Stability in the Taiwan Strait is a decisive element in the security of the Asia-Pacific region, which itself in turn is closely bound up with world peace. Therefore, peaceful resolution of the cross-strait problem is more than just the hope of all Chinese, it is the common aspiration of all Asia and the world. We sincerely hope that the Peking authorities can get in line with world trends, maintain goodwill, step up dialogue and communication, promote cooperation and reciprocity, actively safeguard the stability of the Taiwan Strait, ensure the security and well-being of people on both sides of the Strait, and promote Asia-Pacific regional prosperity and world peace. This would genuinely launch a new era when all Chinese could hold their heads high!

Ladies and gentlemen, the real significance of celebrating historical festivals is to pass on our heritage and blaze a trail for future generations. This year's National Day is graced with greater splendor precisely because of the struggles and sacrifice of our forbears and their concerted pursuit of the ideals of nation building, which have ultimately culminated in glory through the joint efforts of my 21.3 million fellow citizens. Of this, we can be proud but not complacent, because today marks the beginning of another milestone in democratic development. Only if we are even more united, and strive harder can we lay a solid developmental foundation for posterity with the success of our democratic development, allowing the Republic of China everlasting prosperity and enduring vigor. Thank you!

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