President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to make a better Taiwan in her National Day address marking the 106th anniversary of the Republic of China (Taiwan) delivered Oct. 10 outside the Presidential Office Building in Taipei City.
“This day belongs to Taiwan’s 23 million people,” Tsai said. “Having been entrusted by the people, I have taken on full responsibility for this and will do everything I can to make Taiwan better.”
Broadcast live on TV and the internet, the president’s address was given before thousands of citizens and dignitaries from home and abroad. It was followed by a large-scale National Day parade featuring colorful floats and capped off with a flyover by formation of AT-3 jet trainers from the ROC air force’s Thunder Tiger Aerobatics Team.
Local attendees included Vice President Chen Chien-jen, Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chyuan, Premier Lai Ching-te and the leaders of the opposition Kuomintang, New Power Party and People First Party. The overseas contingent counted among its numbers representatives of ROC diplomatic allies, as well as delegations from partners like Japan, the U.K. and U.S.
According to the president, making a better Taiwan involves three key aspects: fulfilling commitments and accelerating reform; safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy and freedom; and finding the country’s place in the new international order.
Over the past year, the government has been hard at work providing a better life for the people, Tsai said, adding that no effort has been spared in transforming Taiwan’s economy and industrial structure. This is being accomplished through a range of policy measures such as the five-plus-two innovative industries initiative; Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program; Long-term Care 2.0 Plan; pension, judicial and tax reforms; and combating illicit drugs via multinational cooperation.
“We are a government that can resolve problems,” the president said. “I believe as long as we can resolve problems one step at a time, we will start to see change and this will lead to a better Taiwan.”
On safeguarding Taiwan’s democracy and freedom, Tsai urged the people to remember that these rights only came following the joint efforts of all members of society. “As a result, the government must make the utmost effort to safeguard Taiwan’s values of democracy and freedom, as well as our way of life.”
The important role in this process of the ROC armed forces was highlighted by the president, who praised and thanked all service members for their dedication and sacrifice in defending the nation.
“As commander in chief, I have taken on full responsibility for military reform,” she said, adding that the government is committed to strengthening the country’s defensive capabilities by devoting additional resources to improving conditions for personnel, protecting critical infrastructure, strengthening joint services mission coordination, tackling cybersecurity and espionage, and upgrading equipment.
Although the government is rock-solid on national defense, Tsai said this does not mean it seeks armed conflict. “We remain committed to maintaining peace and stability both in the Taiwan Strait and across the region.”
According to the president, cross-strait relations are an issue that affects Taiwan’s future and the long-term welfare of the people. Since taking office May 20, 2016, Tsai said she has led the government in extending maximum goodwill to safeguard the peaceful and stable development of ties between the two sides of the strait.
“Our goodwill will not change, our commitments will not change, we will not revert to the old path of confrontation, and we will not bow to pressure,” the president said. “We should search for new modes of cross-strait interactions … and lay a more solid basis for long-term peace and stability in the cross-strait relationship.”
When it comes to finding Taiwan’s place in the new international order, Tsai said the country plays an irreplaceable role in the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific, and is ready and willing to make a more meaningful contribution to the international community.
One way of achieving this goal is through the government’s New Southbound Policy. By forging closer links and relations with the 18 target countries in the region, Taiwan is playing a more important part in shaping regional prosperity and stability, she added.
In addition to cooperating with New Southbound countries, the president said Taiwan is seeking an expanded role in international organizations. She cited Official Development Assistance to support diplomatic allies and New Southbound countries in financing infrastructure and major development projects, as well as the release last month of the country’s first ever Voluntary National Review on the implementation of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.
“Taiwan will become better,” Tsai said. “We will become great because of our democracy. We will become great because of our freedom. We will become great because of our unity.”
Following the address and parade, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Tawei Lee hosted the ROC Double Tenth National Day Reception at historic Taipei Guest House. An estimated 4,000 local and foreign VIPs from the diplomatic corps and academic, business, media and political circles attended the evening event. Other highlights of National Day celebrations included a 36-minute fireworks extravaganza and projection show featuring hot air balloons in eastern Taiwan’s Taitung County. (http://taiwantoday.tw/)