President Tsai Ing-wen on the morning of October 10 attended the ROC's 108th Double Tenth National Day Celebration in the plaza fronting the Presidential Office Building, and delivered an address entitled "Nation of Resilience, Forward into the World."
A translation of the president's address follows:
National Day Celebration Chairperson Su Jia-chyuan, distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens watching via TV or the Internet:
Today is the 108th National Day of the Republic of China. I would like to thank all our friends from around the world who have come to commemorate this day with us.
Today belongs to the 23 million people who call Taiwan home. I would also like to thank former President Ma Ying-jeou, former Vice President Annette Lu, former Vice President Wu Den-yih, and Chairs of Political Parties for joining us to celebrate National Day.
Last year, on National Day, I told everyone that Taiwan was in the midst of change. Changes in the global trade situation and the international political scene led to a future rife with challenges. I said that we must seek stability, adaptability, and progress, and build a stronger Taiwan.
Another year has quickly passed. The world is still changing fast, and the changes are even more dramatic. The US-China trade dispute continues. And not far from Taiwan, Hong Kong is on the verge of chaos due to the failure of "one country, two systems."
Nevertheless, China is still threatening to impose its "one country, two systems model for Taiwan." Their diplomatic offensives and military coercion pose a serious challenge to regional stability and peace.
My fellow citizens, when freedom and democracy are challenged, and when the Republic of China's existence and development are threatened, we must stand up and defend ourselves. The overwhelming consensus among Taiwan's 23 million people is our rejection of "one country, two systems," regardless of party affiliation or political position.
The Republic of China has stood tall on Taiwan for over 70 years. But if we were to accept "one country, two systems," there would no longer be room for the Republic of China's existence. As President, standing up to protect national sovereignty is not a provocation—it is my fundamental responsibility.
For 70 years, we have faced many serious challenges together. Rather than defeating us, these challenges have made us stronger and more determined.
We endured the August 23 Artillery War of 1958 in Kinmen, and the Taiwan Strait Crisis of 1996 together. Time and again, the people of Taiwan have faced diplomatic offensives and military coercion without ever backing down. Together, we have defended the land on which we stand and our national sovereignty.
We endured the panic following our withdrawal from the United Nations and repeatedly withstood the pressure of severed diplomatic ties. Yet the determination of the Taiwanese people to embrace the world has never wavered.
The oil crisis of the 1970s, the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the 2000 dot-com bubble, and the financial crisis of a decade ago—there are always economic challenges. Yet time and time again, Taiwanese businesspeople, willing to go out into the world armed with only a briefcase, and hardworking and innovative Taiwanese people, have turned crises into opportunities and kept our economy moving forward.
We endured the August 7 Flood of 1959, the 921 Earthquake of 1999, the SARS outbreak of 2003, and Typhoon Morakot in 2009. The hardships of natural disasters and disease outbreaks have never defeated the Taiwanese people's will to survive. When our homeland is devastated, we rebuild it. When our land is damaged, we restore it. We wipe away our tears and stand up once again, because tomorrow is a new day, full of hope.
These shared memories exemplify the resilience of Taiwan's people, a resilience that led us to become one of the Four Asian Tigers, a resilience that led us on the arduous path of democratization to become an important global model of democracy.
After walking this path together, we cannot be divided amongst ourselves, regardless of party affiliation. No one has a patent on the Republic of China, and no one can monopolize Taiwan. The words "Republic of China (Taiwan)" are not the exclusive property of any one political party, and that is the overwhelming consensus of Taiwan society.
Looking to the future, there are many challenges awaiting us that we must overcome.
We are witnessing China's rise and expansion, as they challenge free, democratic values and the global order through a combination of authoritarianism, nationalism, and economic might. As the strategic forefront of the Indo-Pacific region, Taiwan has become the first line of defense for democratic values.
China is encroaching on us through their sharp power, but as a crucial member of the region, we know that Taiwan must fulfill its responsibilities to the international community. We will not act provocatively or rashly; rather, we will work with like-minded countries to ensure that the peaceful and stable cross-strait status quo is not unilaterally altered.
In order to accomplish this, we must remain united. Though disputes have risen in our society due to differences among ethnicities, generations, faiths, and political views, I am certain that we can find the greatest common denominator among us through dialogue. Experience tells us that conflict, dialogue, and united progress help to lead a country on the right path forward.
We must also hold firm our values of freedom and democracy. The Taiwanese people walked the difficult path to democratization together, and though it may sometimes be tumultuous, only democracy can ensure our hard-won freedom and offer the next generation the right to choose their own future.
We must also continue to build a stronger Taiwan. Over the past three years, we have strived to adjust our economic structure by assisting in industrial upgrade and transition and promoting international diversification. Even as the global economy continues to change rapidly, we are seeing explosive growth in investments. We are steadily moving in the right direction, and we must continue forward.
Over the past three years, we have strived to create a fair society. We have raised wages, cut taxes, and provided comprehensive care, so that everyone can reap the benefits of our economic growth. Looking to the future, our administration will continue working to reduce the burden on citizens and ensure everyone receives outstanding care by enhancing our Long-term Care 2.0 Plan and promoting the expansion of subsidies for early childhood education and care.
Over the past three years, we have developed our national defense industries and purchased advanced weapons, boosting military morale and enhancing our combat capabilities. We recently completed production of our first self-manufactured advanced training aircraft prototype, and domestically produced naval vessels will soon join our ranks as well. Our armed forces are duty-bound to defend our country and stand firm in upholding freedom and democracy.
Over the past three years, we have actively taken part in international affairs. Taiwan is responsible and willing to contribute, and we have become an indispensable force for good in maintaining regional peace and stability. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with like-minded countries to achieve more opportunities for substantive cooperation.
Our future path is clear, as are our goals.
First, we must ensure that the people continue to remain united under the banner of freedom and democracy to defend our sovereignty.
Second, we must continue to build a stronger Taiwan and bolster our economic capabilities to create a prosperous society and powerful country.
Third, we must actively engage with the world and overcome challenges, so that the Republic of China (Taiwan) can hold its head high on the international stage with bravery and confidence.
Last quarter, we reclaimed the top spot among the Four Asian Tigers for GDP growth. The World Economic Forum ranked us as one of the world's top four "super innovators," and our hi-tech and innovative industries are world-leading.
Taiwan's athletes, skills competitors, and countless creative designers and artists are shining on the international stage and bringing honor and pride to Taiwan.
Our self-developed FORMOSAT-5 and FORMOSAT-7 have both been launched into space, a testament to our prowess in aerospace technology. A team of scientists from Taiwan also contributed to capturing the world's first images of a black hole.
If we can go into space, and see a black hole 55 million lightyears away, how could we not have the courage to face the challenges ahead of us?
Our resilience has transformed history's trials into the power to grow and evolve. Our efforts have transformed natural disasters into opportunities for rebirth. Each day, our homeland is made better thanks to the efforts of all who call this place home.
On National Day, all citizens remain united under the banner of freedom and democracy. We will face the future with optimism and overcome challenges with determination. God bless Taiwan. Let's go, Taiwan. Let's go, Republic of China. Thank you.