President Tsai Ing-wen delivered an address on the afternoon of June 13 regarding the decision by the Republic of Panama to end diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).
A translation of the president's remarks is as follows:
Dear fellow citizens:
Earlier today, the Office of the President and relevant government ministries responded to the Republic of Panama's decision to end diplomatic ties with the Republic of China and establish relations with the People's Republic of China. Despite our national security team having prior knowledge of the situation and making every possible effort, the end result was still deeply regrettable.
I have already asked relevant government ministries to initiate response measures, such as ensuring the stability of our economy. We will continue to protect the rights of Taiwanese businesses and overseas communities in Panama. Our diplomats in Panama will also uphold our national interests and complete their mission in a dignified manner.
Although we have lost a diplomatic ally, our refusal to engage in a diplomatic bidding war will not change. The fact that the Republic of China exists will not change. And Taiwan's value and standing in the international community will not change.
We are a sovereign country. This sovereignty cannot be challenged nor traded. China has continued to manipulate the "one China" principle and pressure Taiwan's international space, threatening the rights of the Taiwanese people. But it remains undeniable that the Republic of China is a sovereign country. This is a fact China will never be able to deny.
At this moment, our only choice is to stand together. This is the most forceful way to demonstrate our sovereignty. To accept Beijing's logic would be to succumb to threats and intimidation, and place limitations on our very own existence.
The people of Taiwan want peace. Taiwan's existence and international space are a vital cornerstone for regional peace and stability. We do not want to see China's misguided efforts and provocations lead cross-strait relations from peace towards confrontation.
I also want to use this opportunity to declare to Beijing: Taiwan has already upheld our responsibility for maintaining cross-strait peace and stability. In contrast, China's actions have challenged the cross-strait status quo. This is unacceptable to the people of Taiwan. And we will not sit idle as our national interests are repeatedly threatened and challenged.
Coercion and threats will not bring the two sides closer. Instead, they will drive our two peoples apart. On behalf of the 23 million people of Taiwan, I declare that we will never surrender to such intimidation.
Dear fellow citizens: It is true that for a long period of time, Taiwan's international situation has been difficult. It is also true that pressure from the other side of the strait has never stopped. But the less favorable our situation is, the more resolute we must be in upholding our belief in freedom and democracy. We must stand together and ensure that Taiwan's 23 million citizens continue to determine our own destiny.
As president, my greatest responsibility is the protection of our national sovereignty. Greater challenges will only bring greater resolve. Our confidence as a people should not, and will not, be easily defeated. We will endure.