By Minister Philip Y.M. Yang
Government Information Office
Republic of China (Taiwan)
On October 10, 2011, we will celebrate the Republic of China’s National Day as well as the 100th anniversary of the event that led to the founding of our nation. One hundred years ago in the Wuchang Uprising of 1911, our forebears launched a revolution to overthrow the Qing monarchy and establish Asia’s first republic. A century later, the ROC has not only become a beacon of democracy to Asia and the world, but built peace and stability in the region through such actions as signing the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with mainland China. Our policy of viable diplomacy, meanwhile, has also won our citizens visa-free entry or landing visa privileges in 123 countries and territories around the world. Indeed, since President Ma Ying-jeou assumed office in 2008, Taiwan’s endeavors and accomplishments in democracy, relations across the Taiwan Strait and international affairs have once again put the ROC in the global limelight.
The past 100 years of the nation’s development have been marked by laughter and tears, success and frustration. Though the ROC triumphed in the War of Resistance Against Japan, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait became separately governed in 1949. And while the ROC succeeded in 1943 in abrogating unequal treaties imposed by world powers, it was forced to withdraw from the United Nations in 1971.
Faced with daunting challenges, the Ma administration has enact reforms over the last three years to strengthen the ROC and see the nation through the global economic crisis, enabling the people of Taiwan to stride forward with new hope and confidence. With policies leading the nation in the right direction, the Ma administration has achieved four notable firsts in the history of the ROC.
First, on the economic front, Taiwan’s GDP per capita is expected to surpass US$20,000 this year, putting the nation on a par with advanced countries and among Asia’s most vibrant economies. Our efforts to maintain open, liberal policies and participate in regional economic integration have also helped us reach our objective of “strengthening Taiwan, linking with the Asia-Pacific and deploying globally.”
Second, in our relations with mainland China, we have effectively maintained peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. By basing negotiations on the “1992 consensus” and upholding the policy of “no unification, no independence and no use of military force,” we have won widespread support within the country and affirmation from the international community. As a result, Taipei and Beijing resumed institutionalized negotiations after a 10-year hiatus, concluding 15 agreements on trade and other areas that are transforming bilateral exchanges into substantive, mutually beneficial collaborations. As Taiwan and the mainland make strides toward peace and stability, cross-strait ties are at their most stable in 60 years.
Third, in national competitiveness, we have ended the closed-door policies of the past and made significant improvements to the investment environment as well as to government efficiency. This is reflected in the International Institute for Management Development’s 2011 World Competitiveness Yearbook, in which Taiwan climbed to sixth place overall, its best showing in the history of the ROC.
Finally, in foreign relations, our friendships with diplomatic partners are growing stronger as cross-strait ties improve. We have regained trust and resumed high-level exchanges with important nations, including the U.S.; seven countries now offer working holiday programs to Taiwan’s youth; ROC citizens are expected to receive priority consideration for visa-free entry into the United States next year; and countries are lending unprecedented support for the ROC’s participation in international affairs. Further, Taiwan’s links with the global market are stronger than ever. We recently signed an investment protection agreement with Japan, for instance, and are currently negotiating an economic partnership agreement with Singapore as well as a trade and investment framework agreement with the United States. These positive developments show that our strategy of creating peace in the Taiwan Strait and expanding our businesses worldwide is working and will continue to bear fruit.
In the three short years this administration has been in office, we have achieved four historical firsts, Taiwan has been transformed, and our citizens and friends have been assured. But we are not satisfied with these achievements. As the ROC approaches the start of its second century, we are pushing forward with our vision for a “golden decade,” creating “value-added happiness” for our people and gaining a greater international role for the country. We aspire to usher in a decade marked by peace, development and prosperity using pragmatic, forward-looking and liberal policies. In this way, we can lay the foundation for a resplendent second century for the Republic of China.