President Tsai Ing-wen recently sent a letter to Pope Francis of the Catholic Church in response to his message marking the 56th World Day of Peace.
The following is the full text of the president's letter to the pope:
Your message for the 2023 World Day of Peace depicted war as a virus for which a vaccine has yet to be found, called for joint endeavors to heal a world ravaged by conflict and a pandemic, and highlighted the need to develop appropriate migrant-friendly policies. We identify profoundly with your views.
The war that erupted between Russia and Ukraine last February has brought home to humanity just how valuable peace is. Preserving regional security has become a key consensus shared by national leaders. In my 2022 National Day address, I underscored that peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait are the basis for the development of cross-strait relations and that armed confrontation is absolutely not an option. I made clear that only by respecting the commitment of the Taiwanese people to our sovereignty, democracy, and freedom, can there be a foundation for resuming constructive interaction across the Taiwan Strait.
The people of Taiwan have a deep understanding of the mercilessness of war. Last March, our civil society donated funds totaling more than US$30 million and collected 650 tons of material supplies to assist the millions of Ukrainian refugees displaced by war. Our government, in cooperation with local governments and civil society organizations in Ukraine, extended aid to hospitals, churches, and schools to help Ukrainians through these hard times. We will partner with like-minded nations to support reconstruction efforts in Ukraine in concrete response to the appeal Your Holiness made in your encyclical Fratelli tutti to help care for refugees and other vulnerable peoples.
As Your Holiness stated, the lesson we have learned from the pandemic over the last three years is that no one can be saved alone. As viruses know no borders and health is a universal human right, this right should not be affected, nor should anyone be deprived of it, on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, politics, economics, or any other factor.
Taiwan introduced the National Health Insurance program in 1995, ensuring that all citizens enjoy equal right to medical care. In the international arena, Taiwan contributes its utmost, donating masks and protective equipment, and providing the needy and helpless with material supplies. We are dedicated to creating an island of resilience, as we hope to give the world a better Taiwan.
Although Taiwan continues to be excluded from the World Health Organization, we are confident that our contributions as a leading positive force will help bring about a virtuous cycle. We wholeheartedly hope that in the near future, the WHO's goal of health for all can be truly achieved.
Another formidable challenge the world faces is climate change. Taiwan is forging steadily toward the goal of net-zero emissions in 2050. In response to Your Holiness's encyclical Laudato si', we will collaborate with the Holy See on numerous environmental projects, which include promoting smart agriculture, solar energy systems, and electric vehicles.
Over a million people in Taiwan are new residents or their children. With broadly inclusive immigration policies and a respect for different ethnic groups, our government seeks to echo the concern Your Holiness has for immigrants by assisting new residents in assimilating into Taiwan society through education while also organizing activities that facilitate the passing down of their cultural heritage.
Last year marked the 80th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Republic of China and the Holy See. The R.O.C. Embassy to the Holy See hosted an art exhibition titled Friendly Taiwan meets Fratelli tutti, featuring traditional calligraphy containing excerpts from the Bible and Your Holiness's encyclicals. The Embassy also held a conference on "Beautiful Taiwan, the Field of God" in honor of the loving deeds performed by countless clergy during their service in Taiwan – a heartwarming testimony to the staunch friendship between our two states.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Taiwan aspires to serve as a light in the world and will work closely with the Holy See to create a society of greater justice and peace for humanity.
Please accept, Your Holiness, the renewed assurances of my highest consideration, as well as my best wishes for your good health and the continued prosperity of the Catholic Church.