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President Tsai holds press conference to mark seven years in office
President Tsai holds press conference to mark seven years in office

On the morning of May 20, President Tsai Ing-wen held a press conference titled "Seven years in office: redefining Taiwan, letting the world see Taiwan from a new perspective" to report back to her fellow citizens on the achievements of the last seven years. In remarks, the president said that her administration will continue to safeguard freedom and democracy and advance the well-being of our citizens, bringing happiness to the Taiwanese people and progress to the nation.

A translation of President Tsai's remarks follows:

Today I begin my eighth year as president of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Seven years ago, we embraced our cause of transforming our country, and one step after the other, embarked on reform. From then to now, we have walked a long path. We have markedly changed the face of Taiwan from that of seven years ago.

One difference is that the idea of national defense self-sufficiency is no longer a dream. On last year's National Day, we saw Brave Eagle jet trainers soar across the skies over the Presidential Office. In the second half of this year, our first Indigenous Defense Submarine prototype will be launched. Thanks to the efforts of many people, we are demonstrating Taiwan's resolve to defend itself to the world.

Another difference is that despite changes to the global economy brought on by trade tensions between the US and China, as well as a sudden and unprecedented global pandemic, Taiwan's economy has not been held back. With the considerable domestic demand created by our Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program and the technological advantages we have extended through our Six Core Strategic Industries policy, Taiwan's high-tech industry has assumed an indispensable position in international supply chains.

Seven years ago, we began promoting the New Southbound Policy, and last year Taiwan's exports to New Southbound Policy partner countries reached a historic high of NT$96.9 billion. In addition to our global expansion, we are welcoming a surge in investment at home. Under our Three Major Programs for Investing in Taiwan and Action Plan for Welcoming Overseas Taiwanese Businesses to Return to Invest in Taiwan, we have approved nearly NT$2.4 trillion in investment. And over the last seven years, increased investment from foreign enterprises has exceeded NT$2 trillion. This is not only testament to the international community's confidence in Taiwan, but also shows that the trend of Taiwan's investment flowing predominantly across the strait has been reversed.

Seven years ago, Taiwan had only just begun developing green energy. But last year, the annual output from renewable energy surpassed that of nuclear energy for the first time.

By the end of this year, investment in our green energy industry from foreign and domestic sources will reach NT$1 trillion. This sector will also bring to Taiwan experienced international professionals in finance and up and downstream industries, further deepening Taiwan's engagement with the global community.

A few days ago, I went to Miaoli to witness the inauguration of Formosa 2, our biggest wind farm. The next time you are on Provincial Highway 61 in Miaoli and see the wind turbines in the distance, you will be looking at the future of a net-zero transition in 2050.

Just yesterday, Taiwan and the US jointly announced the content of the first phase of the Taiwan-US 21st Century Trade Initiative. Covering trade facilitation, growth and employment in small- and medium-sized enterprises, and a host of emerging global trade issues, this will be the most comprehensive trade agreement signed between Taiwan and the US since 1979.

This is not just a milestone in Taiwan-US trade relations; it is an important step toward signing trade agreements with major trading countries. 

In face of China's political and military intimidation, the people of Taiwan are calm and will not act in haste. We are rational and will not act to provoke. The Taiwanese people have shown the world our unprecedented commitment to democracy and freedom. This shows the world Taiwan's resilience, and brings ever stronger international support for democratic Taiwan.

Of course, we have done far more than just that in the past seven years. I want to extend a special thanks to our partners in the public and private sectors who have stood firm at their posts and contributed to the effort. I would especially like to recognize the dedication of our military, police, and coast guard who hold the front line. And most importantly, I thank all the 23 million Taiwanese people who stand united as one.

Over the past seven years, we have witnessed successes and setbacks. Reform can be challenging, and in governance, there is always room for improvement. However, our administration applies itself with diligence and self-reflection. We make adjustments, find solutions, bear the strain, and solve problems, so that we are able to address changes in the international situation while meeting the expectations of the people.

I am confident that, from the vantage point of the next 10 or 20 years, when we look back at this span of time, we will see more clearly that we have redefined Taiwan in these seven years, and that we have let the world see yet again the essential presence of Taiwan in the world.

My fellow citizens, although I have just one year left in my term, that does not mean that we will slow our pace in the last mile. I know that we can and will do what is possible in the next year. And for what we cannot finish in one year, we will plan and lay the groundwork for Taiwan's next stage of development, in this year and the next four.

Now, to touch on economic development and people's livelihoods post-pandemic. We are continuing to restructure and strengthen our industry through our post-pandemic special budget. Our Executive Yuan, while fully investing itself to solving labor shortages, will also propose mechanisms for optimizing and retaining talent as well as a comprehensive talent supply plan. We must keep pace in development throughout all sectors of society, while also setting the stage to enhance Taiwan's industrial competitiveness moving forward.

Taiwan is open. And we welcome tourists from all over the world, including our friends from Hong Kong, Macao, and across the strait, to see Taiwan and its unique cultural appeal and witness its safety and convenience.

We have all seen the egg shortages of the recent past, and it is disheartening to see difficulties the situation has caused throughout our community. But we have also learned from the experience. We are keeping a close eye on the supply and prices of various daily necessities, and we are coordinating among multiple government ministries and agencies to help minimize the impact such shortages have on people's lives.

It is now May, our tax season. This year, we have again increased exemptions and deductions to reduce the burden for all. And following that, so long as finances are stable, we will continue to work for wage rises, tax cuts, and increases to welfare.

Aside from looking after the economy and livelihoods of our people, I see two top priorities for the planning of Taiwan's future. The first is to maintain Taiwan's key position in the global supply chain. The second is to maintain the status quo of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

While Russia continues its invasion of Ukraine, expanding authoritarianism and the menace of aggression and annexation are eroding our world's civilization and our democratic institutions. All of this has also resulted in global inflation and economic recession, which have impacted the international economic and trade situation post-pandemic, as well as the supply chain system which is now being restructured.

Under that kind of external threat, over the past seven years we have worked to adjust Taiwan's economic structure – from semiconductors to information and communications technology, from precision machinery to the Internet of Things, and from the potential of the green energy industry to the power of biotechnology – leveraging these industries to create quality employment opportunities.  

We have also gradually broken free from the path of engaging with the world through China like we did seven years ago, striding the international stage with our very own Made in Taiwan brand.

More importantly, our democratic governance, trusted internationally, is integrated with our world-leading competitiveness in technology and comprehensive, robust industrial ecosystem. We have proven to the world that Taiwan is a highly reliable, efficient, and secure cooperative partner in the global supply chain.

Going forward, we must take further and stronger action to show our determination to create an economy and industries that are even more resilient, so that we can cement Taiwan's key position in global supply chains.

There are those with ulterior motives, however, who deliberately engage in cognitive operations in an attempt to undermine global confidence in Taiwan's investment environment. Nevertheless, I want to assure everyone that Taiwan's key position in global supply chains will not be affected, and that Taiwan will continue to play an even more important role.

Although we face risks, Taiwan absolutely did not create those risks. We are responsible managers of risk. Taiwan will stand together with democratic countries and communities around the world to resolve those risks together through cooperation.

"Taiwan" has become a key word across the world. The Taiwan Strait has transcended from a cross-strait, regional issue to become the focal point of global security and international prosperity. The whole world is at stake. As such, we must manage cross-strait issues from a global perspective, and not revert to the constricted framework of the past.

The global consensus is clear: the Taiwan Strait issue must be resolved peacefully, and war is not an option. Neither side can change the status quo through non-peaceful means.

Since I took office, our position has remained firm, pledging to maintain the status quo, and upholding the "four commitments," in order to safeguard the shared interests and well-being of the 23 million people of Taiwan. We do not provoke, we do not act rashly, and we will absolutely not bow to pressure.

We have endeavored to maintain the status quo, prevent conflict, resolve cross-strait differences through dialogue on equal footing, and promote healthy and orderly exchanges. These are our shared responsibilities across all political parties and across the Taiwan Strait. These are also the common expectations of regional countries and democracies across the globe.

Peace is the only option across the Taiwan Strait. Maintenance of the status quo is the largest common denominator among all parties and the decisive key to preserving peace.

We are in a historic moment, when the international community is most attentive and supportive toward Taiwan. It is therefore paramount that the government and the opposition parties must stay united. Internally, we can be competitive in democratic elections, but externally, we must work in solidarity to protect the Republic of China (Taiwan).

This is because Taiwan's democracy did not come free of cost and peace is never earned through submission. I want to reiterate that to maintain peace, we must strengthen ourselves. The more united we are, the safer we are. And the safer Taiwan is, the safer the world.

Professor Lin Shu-ya (林淑雅), before her recent and untimely passing, once helped in the drafting of a statement, in which she wrote, "We have taken it upon ourselves to decide what kind of country we want to have here on Mother Earth, and we are actively remaking it. This is respect." We should all hold in our minds these penetrating and insightful words.

Being able to serve as the president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and to walk beside the 23 million people of Taiwan for the past 2,556 days has been a singular honor. We have been through many trials, though at every step engaging confidently with the rest of the world.

Our administration will continue to safeguard freedom and democracy and protect Taiwan's democratic and free way of life. We will put in even greater effort to advance the well-being of our citizens, bringing happiness to the Taiwanese people and progress to the nation.

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