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President Tsai's response to Pope Francis's Message for 2020 World Day of Peace
President Tsai's response to Pope Francis's Message for 2020 World Day of Peace

President Tsai Ing-wen recently sent a letter to Pope Francis of the Catholic Church in response to his message marking the 53rd World Day of Peace.

The following is the full text of the president's letter to the pope:

Your Holiness,

It was with profound admiration that I read your message for the 2020 World Day of Peace entitled "Peace as a Journey of Hope: Dialogue, Reconciliation and Ecological Conversion." I strongly identify with Your Holiness's magnanimous vision and appeal to all of humanity to renounce the desire to dominate others, show mutual respect, and learn to see one another as sons and daughters of God and as brothers and sisters, so as to break the spiral of vengeance.

Many of the international conflicts today can be attributed to the desire to dominate others. When one party tries to impose its will on another, genuine dialogue becomes impossible. Communication must be open, allowing all parties to freely and honestly express their views, seek common ground amid differences, foster mutual understanding, build consensus, and gradually move toward reconciliation.

We have always concurred with Your Holiness's peace ideals, and hope to peacefully resolve the differences across the Taiwan Strait. However, formidable challenges stand in the way of cross-strait dialogue. The crux of the issue is that China refuses to relinquish its desire to dominate Taiwan. It continues to undermine Taiwan's democracy, freedom, and human rights with threats of military force and the implementation of disinformation campaigns, cyberattacks, and diplomatic maneuvers. Nevertheless, despite China's harsh suppression of Taiwan in the international arena, Taiwan has forged ahead courageously, working in cooperation with diplomatic allies and like-minded countries to draw the attention of democracies worldwide to the fact that Taiwan is an optimal partner for maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific.

On November 23, 2019, when Your Holiness was flying through the Taipei Flight Information Region on your way from Thailand to Japan for a pastoral visit, you sent greetings to myself and my fellow citizens, assuring us of your prayers for all the people of Taiwan and invoking abundant divine blessings of peace. I want to reaffirm that I will spare no effort in safeguarding democracy, freedom, stability, justice, and peace in the Republic of China. I agree with your statement in the World Day of Peace message that mistrust and fear weaken relationships. In recent months, China has repeatedly conducted military actions and drills in the Taiwan Strait and surrounding areas, causing anxiety in the region and further eroding international trust in China. As a key stakeholder in the region, Taiwan will fulfill its international obligations and refrain from provocations and rash behavior, in order to maintain the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

Furthermore, I am in complete accord with your statement that walking the path of peace requires us to set aside every act of violence in thought, word and deed, whether against our neighbors or against God's creation. Authorities dispatching armed police to fire tear gas and suppress and arrest people expressing the wish to pursue democracy and human rights; internet celebrities or athletes being threatened with termination of contracts or bans from competitions when they speak up in defense of freedom of speech; religious practitioners facing detention and persecution by public security officers when they, following their conscience, refuse to be coerced into signing documents to join an organization that violates their religious doctrines—all these constitute what you refer to in your message as abuses of power and reflect the notion of diversity as an obstacle. Indeed, they only serve to fuel conflict.

In addition to your appeal for peace among nations, Your Holiness also called for peaceful symbiosis between humanity and nature in your encyclical letter Laudato Si'. Taiwan has persistently pursued such symbiosis. We are proactively promoting green energy and sustainable water environments under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program. Our first offshore wind farm has been completed. By 2025, we seek to increase the ratio of renewable energy in our total energy generation to 20 percent, as well as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 10 percent compared to 2005 levels. We have launched a green energy science park project as part of an effort to transform Taiwan into a green energy development hub in Asia. Our government is leveraging our strong research and development capabilities and collaborating with Taiwanese enterprises in the green energy, environmental protection, and smart agriculture sectors to contribute to the Holy See's efforts in Rome to advance environmental sustainability and create job opportunities and healthy living environments for new immigrants and refugees. By working together, we can achieve the ideal of harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

In your message, Your Holiness encourages humanity to always have hope, for hope leads us toward peace and helps us overcome adversity and difficulty. The theme of the 2019 New Year's Eve fireworks display at our highest landmark, Taipei 101, was aptly themed "Light of Hope, Taiwan." I firmly believe that as long as people in Taiwan and around the world embrace hope and remain open to a dialogue that rejects exclusion and manipulation, true peace can be achieved.

Please accept, Your Holiness, the assurances of my highest consideration, as well as my best wishes for your personal wellbeing and the continued growth of the Catholic Church.

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