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President Lee's Address to the 11th Plenary Session of the National Unification Council

The full text of President Lee's Address to the 11th Plenary Session of the National Unification Council is as follows: 


Vice Chairman Lien, Vice Chairman Hsu, Council Members, and Members of the Research Committee:


First of all, allow me to thank you once again for attending this conference today.


Upon hearing the reports by Director-General Yin and Chairman Chang, we now have a deeper insight into the current mainland situation and our mainland China policy. At the same time, you have all enjoyed a vigorous exchange of views on cross-Straits relations and the national reunification issue. Although you have been able to reach a consensus on some matters, there are some differing views on other issues. Every one of your opinions is extremely valuable because the development of cross-Straits relations is closely intertwined with the right of existence and the interests of our 21.3 million compatriots on Taiwan, while the reunification issue will chart the future course of historical development of the Chinese people. Therefore, these can be prudently promoted only after full discussion, mutual sharing of views, and establishment of a consensus between government and opposition.


I have, thus, recorded in detail each one of your valued opinions. Today, a total of 14 members have stated their views on various issues in one of four following categories:


* The orientation, progress and policy of national unification--3 members;

* Cross-Straits economic and trade exchanges-- 6 members;

* Cross-Straits cultural exchanges-- 2 members; and

* Other related to the promotion of cross-Straits relations--10 members.


We shall pass on all your views to the relevant ministries and commissions under the Executive Yuan for further study and implementation. Those opinions involving a relatively broad range of areas will be referred for further discussion to the upcoming National Development Conference at the end of this year.


Over the past few years, we have, by gathering opinions from all sectors of society and maintaining a forward-looking and pragmatic approach, vigorously developed cross-Straits relations and made substantial progress. We first established the National Unification Council, then the Mainland Affairs Council under the Executive Yuan, and also the private juridical entity, the Straits Exchange Foundation, thereby establishing a complete system for the formulation and promotion of mainland China policy. We also terminated the Period of National Mobilization for Suppression of the Communist Rebellion, drew up the Guidelines for National Unification, and formulated and promulgated the Statute Governing Relations Between People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, thus laying a solid political and legal groundwork for the sound development of cross-Straits relations. These innovative acts put an end to the long-term separation between the two sides, allowing people-to-people exchanges to flourish. This is a step forward of profound historic significance for the great task of future reunification. It was not easily achieved, and fully demonstrates our goodwill and determination to promote cross-Straits relations.


Last year, when the Peking authorities brought out their eight-point proposal on cross-Straits relations, I immediately pointed out that this was an important matter, that we must give it serious attention, that views should be extensively exchanged among the various sectors of society, and that government agencies in charge of such matters should study them thoroughly and come up with strategies in response. After nearly two months of study, I set forth a six-point policy at the 10th plenary session of the National Unification Council. (I would like to go over this six-point policy once more):


1. Pursue China' s unification based on the reality that the two sides are governed respectively by two governments;


2. Strengthen bilateral exchanges based on Chinese culture;


3. Enhance trade and economic relations to develop a mutually beneficial and complementary relationship;


4. Ensure that both sides join international organizations on an equal footing and that leaders on both sides meet in a natural setting;


5. Adhere to the principle of resolving all disputes by peaceful means ; and


6. Jointly safeguard prosperity and promote democracy in Hong Kong and Macao.


I have also sincerely stated that although the two sides of the Straits have been separated for decades, we have always cherished the brotherly love we share with our mainland compatriots, and have always kept in mind the welfare of the entire Chinese people. In the future, we will continue to demonstrate mutually supportive brotherly love, and assist the pursuit of further development within a stable situation on the Chinese mainland. Moreover, I firmly believe that in today's international environment of easing tension, each side of the Straits should undertake to develop the political and economic rights and interests of their people through peaceful competition. This would be the most direct and effective contribution to the entire Chinese nation, and would not only allow us to seek a real solution to the problem of reunifying China but also allow future generations to stand proud before the world.


Today, I must take pains to explain once more our proposals and actions of the previous year, since last year presented a momentous opportunity for the development of national reunification. History gave both sides of the Taiwan Straits a wonderful opportunity to create a new situation. All that was necessary at the time was to maintain good will, exercise a sense of historic mission, and both sides could have joined hands and embarked on an entirely new historic course. Regrettably, the Peking authorities failed to understand the trend of the times, and stuck to a hegemonic stance and rigid " policies for dealing with Taiwan, " single-handedly blocking the progress of history and stalling the progress of cross-Straits relations.


The pursuit of prosperity and development for the Chinese nation is the unshirkable mission of the entire Chinese people. We understand that, in order to avoid any major domestic changes, the Peking authorities have adopted the extremely conservative approach of "dealing strictly" with domestic problems, the Hong Kong problem, and even international problems, and suppressing all differing views. However, genuinely long-lasting peaceful rule stems from satisfying the public needs, assuring basic human rights, and pursuing the welfare of the people, and not from using force or intimidation to maintain momentary and superficial stability. Thus, Peking's high-handed methods have failed to win the acceptance of the 21.3 million people on Taiwan, have exacerbated senseless misunderstanding and enmity, and have hindered the progress of the grand task of national reunification. We firmly believe that only on the basis of mutual tolerance, mutual respect, and recognition of reality, and only through dialogue and the development of mutually beneficial cooperation can we narrow the gap between the two sides, establish mechanisms for peacefully resolving disputes, and build up the favorable conditions for national reunification.


Ladies and gentlemen: Let me emphasize again today that the pursuit of China's reunification is our epochal responsibility as we write a new chapter in our history; while ensuring the security and welfare of our 21.3 million compatriots in the Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu area is the fundamental issue for our existence and development. Therefore, our mainland China policy must start with keeping our roots in Taiwan, strengthening our infrastructure, and building up our national strength. Let us avoid haste and demonstrate restraint; let us pace ourselves and stay the course; to accomplish step by step the ultimate goal of peaceful national reunification.


Although the Peking regime sticks to its self-serving ways and impedes the development of history, the ROC's determination to create history for the entire Chinese people has never changed. With its experience in economic development, the ROC has substantial economic might with which to advance the prosperity and development of all China. With our achievement in political reform, we have unparalleled confidence, backed up by the will of the entire populace, to steer the development of all China. Thus, despite numerous ups and downs, we remain open-minded enough to raise forward-looking proposals.


In my inaugural address of May 20, 1996, I expressed clearly that Taiwan and the mainland should "face up to the facts and engage in dialog and communication with profound sincerity and patience to reconcile differences and reach agreement." I also solemnly declared that, both sides should " deal straight-forwardly with the momentous question of how to terminate the state of hostility." I also expressed my willingness to embark upon a "journey of peace," and called for "meeting with the top headership of the Chinese Communists for a direct exchange of views," in hopes of creating a new opportunity for the reunification of China.


Ladies and Gentlemen: We have of our own accord adopted forward-looking and pragmatic actions to once again open the door to cross-Straits consultations and create a new climate. We hope that the Peking regime comes to understand the trend of the times, abandons its biases, and considers the future of the Chinese nation, allowing Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits to join forces and jointly create a new age of prosperity, peace, and happiness.


Your spirited discussion today has provided valuable ideas for us to consider in formulating the next phase of our mainland policy. We also hope that all sectors of society will fully express their thinking regarding these issues and gradually reach a consensus. This will allow us to proceed at a steady pace and continue to create new historic opportunities.


Thank you.

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