TAIPEI-President Tsai Ing-wen recently sent a letter to Pope Francis in response to his message for the 52nd World Day of Peace, supporting his call for good politics in the service of peace and renewed commitment to universal human virtues, the common good and youth cultivation.
In his message, the pope cites the writings of the late Vietnamese Cardinal Francois-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who was persecuted and imprisoned without trial for 13 years for his religious beliefs.
According to Tsai, the courage and dedication of Van Thuan are an inspiration the world over. “His experience has given tremendous spiritual encouragement to the people of Taiwan, as it resonates with our country’s predicament and the belief we have maintained in freedom and democracy.”
The Republic of China (Taiwan) is recognized by only 17 countries and even the World Health Organization, whose mission is to advance the health and well-being of all mankind, has excluded the 23 million people of Taiwan due to political factors, she said.
Despite long-standing suppression and isolation in the international arena, the president stated that Taiwan has sought to fulfill its responsibilities as a member of the global community by responding to calls for humanitarian assistance and advancing environmental protection and sustainable development.
Taiwan has also signed cooperation agreements with 18 countries on immigration affairs and the prevention of human trafficking, she said, adding that these efforts underscore “Taiwan’s determination to play a role in matters of universal concern and act in line with international views in an all-out effort to end this immoral practice.”
According to Tsai, in the face of suppression from China, Taiwan’s resilience and firm commitment to democracy and human rights will lead the country to a prosperous future.
The president also outlined in her letter the “four musts” for the advancement of cross-strait ties: China must face the reality of the existence of the ROC (Taiwan); respect the commitment of the people to freedom and democracy; handle differences peacefully on the basis of equality; and recognize that negotiations must be conducted by governments or government-authorized agencies. These four elements are the most basic and crucial foundation for the positive development of cross-strait relations, she added.
China has not relinquished its threat to invade Taiwan and continues to suppress Taiwan’s presence and diminish its status in the international arena. “However, similar to the French poet Charles Peguy whom Your Holiness refers to, we believe that the spirit of peace will certainly overcome the law of violence,” Tsai said, adding that Peguy’s life shows that human freedom, equality and dignity are core values that will always supersede the constraints imposed by political ideology.
This year marks the 77th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and the Holy See, with the two sides continuing to cooperate in advancing human development on the basis of the guiding principles of the Catholic Church.
Recent examples in this regard include the hosting of the World Congress of the Apostleship of the Sea in October 2017 in the southern city of Kaohsiung, the signing of a memorandum of understanding on enhancing collaboration in combating money laundering, terrorism financing and associated offenses in May the same year, and Pope Francis’ appointment of Cardinal Fernando Filoni as his special envoy to the Eucharistic Congress of Taiwan scheduled for March 1 in the western county of Yunlin. (Taiwan Today)