President pledges stability, urges China to be responsible

2018/10/10 16:17:48 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, front)

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文, front)

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has reaffirmed her policy of maintaining stability across the Taiwan Strait and urged China to be a responsible stakeholder that plays a positive role in the world rather than a trigger for conflict.

In a speech called "Democratic Taiwan Lights up the World" delivered at a ceremony celebrating the 107th birthday of the Republic of China (ROC), which is now Taiwan's official name, Tsai lauded Taiwan as a beacon of democracy.

"Our democratic transition once illuminated our own path through the darkness, and remains a beacon in the night for those who long for democracy," Tsai said.

Tsai said that people fighting for democracy "in Hong Kong, in mainland China, and around the world can always look to Taiwan, because Taiwan's democracy lights up the world."

Further stressing the theme of Taiwan as a beacon, Tsai gave special thanks to the keepers of Taiwan's 36 lighthouses, including six who led the singing of the national anthem at the ceremony, saying they have braved solitude and hardship to light up the country's shorelines.

In the speech, the president reiterated her administration's determination to protect the free and democratic way of life of the 23 million people in Taiwan, to defend the sustainable development of the ROC (Taiwan), and to maintain cross-strait peace and regional stability.

For some time now, China's unilateral diplomatic offensive and military coercion have harmed cross-strait relations and seriously challenged the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, subjecting Taiwan to "tremendous pressure," Tsai said.

In the face of China's suppression, there are people who have urged her to adopt a more confrontational stance towards China and others who want her to give in and compromise, Tsai said.

But the more dramatically things change, the more Taiwan has to maintain stability, remain composed to reduce pressure, and calmly find its survival niche, she said.

Tsai said her administration will show the world Taiwan's strength and resilience because the best way to defend Taiwan is to make it "indispensable and irreplaceable to the world."

She again called on the authorities in Beijing to be a "responsible major power" and to play a positive role in the region and the world, "instead of being a source of conflict."

Tsai's speech, which prominently highlighted China's intentions and actions to threaten the international order, was markedly different in tone from last year's message.

In Tsai's National Day speech last year, she focused on 2017 being the 30th anniversary of cross-strait exchanges to strike a more conciliatory tone toward to China.

She appealed to Beijing to cherish the results of past exchanges and her administration's goodwill to ensure cross-strait peace and stability and display political wisdom to help the two sides find breakthroughs in the relationship.

But that open spirit had already started to give way to a more critical outlook against China in her year-end speech last year in which she said the increasing frequency of Chinese air and sea missions in the region added to regional complexities along with the situations in Korean Peninsula and South China Sea.

On Wednesday, Tsai also expressed gratitude to Taiwan's diplomatic allies for their advocacy for Taiwan's participation in international cooperation, among them Paraguayan President Mario Abdo Benitez, Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, and Saint Kitts and Nevis Governor-General Sir Tapley Seaton, who all attended the ceremony.

She also thanked like-minded countries including the United States and Japan and the European Union and its member states that have lent support to Taiwan against China's pressure in various forms.

Tsai reassured Taiwan's international friends that "we have the courage to persevere on our path" and she believed that when the world sees the beauty of Taiwan, "Taiwan will never be alone."

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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