Posted: Thursday, May 21, 2020. 9:15 am CST.
On the morning of May 20, ROC 15th-term President Tsai Ing-wen and Vice President Lai Ching-te attended inaugural celebrations at the Taipei Guest House. President Tsai also delivered her inaugural address. A shortened and summarized translation of the president’s remarks follows:
Vice President Lai, esteemed guests, friends watching on TV and online, my fellow citizens across the country, good morning.
I feel immensely grateful to stand here once again today and take on the responsibility entrusted to me by the Taiwanese people.
This inauguration ceremony is unique in the history of the Republic of China. What makes it special is not its size or the number of people in attendance. It is special because we know how difficult it has been for us to get to this point.
I want to thank the people of Taiwan for making such a difficult feat possible.
I particularly want to thank a group of people who have not received a lot of attention over the past four months in our fight against COVID-19. I want to thank every single person who waited in line outside of the pharmacy in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak. Thank you for your patience, and thank you for trusting the government. You have shown the world Taiwan’s commitment to civic virtues, even in times of greatest distress.
I also want to thank everyone who was quarantined or isolated at home, putting up with inconvenience in your daily life to keep others safe and healthy. Thank you for exemplifying humanity’s best qualities and helping us successfully bring the coronavirus outbreak under control.
This sense of pride in our country, this community’s shared destiny, and the memories of these past months will live on in all of our hearts. This is what solidarity feels like.
Many ambassadors and representatives from other countries are here today, and I trust that many countries around the world are watching Taiwan as well.
I want to take this opportunity to tell you that the country you see is populated by kind and resilient people. No matter the difficulties we face, we can always count on our democracy, our solidarity, and our sense of responsibility towards each other to help us overcome challenges, weather difficult times, and stand steadfast in the world.
From January to now, Taiwan has amazed the international community twice. The first was our democratic elections, and the second was our success in the fight against COVID-19.
In recent months, Taiwan’s name has appeared in headlines around the world, thanks to our successful containment of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Taiwan” is also emblazoned on the boxes of supplies we are sending abroad. The Taiwanese people have the kindest hearts in the entire world, and we will always offer help to the international community whenever we are able.
I hope that in addition to sharing in a sense of pride and joy, my fellow citizens can take to heart the spirit of “helping ourselves to help others;” “when we help ourselves, others will help us.”
This pandemic has not yet ended, and we must remain vigilant. Even when it ends, its impacts will linger on.
The coronavirus has profoundly affected our world. It has changed the global political and economic order, accelerated and expanded the reorganization of global supply chains, restructured the global economy, and changed the way we live and shop. It has even changed the way the international community views Taiwan and developments in the surrounding region.
These changes present us with both challenges and opportunities. I want to ask that my fellow citizens be prepared, because countless challenges and difficulties remain ahead of us.
Over the next four years, only those who can end the pandemic within their borders, lay out a strategy for their country’s survival and development, and take advantage of opportunities in the complex world of tomorrow, will be able to set themselves apart on the international stage.
It takes more than fervor to govern a country. Leadership means calmly taking the right direction in a changing world. That is precisely what I have done over the past four years.
I said before that I will leave you with a better country. So over the next four years, I will proactively develop our industries, foster a safe society, ensure national security, and deepen our democracy. I am going to reinvent Taiwan and lead our country into the future.
1. Industrial and Economic Development…
2. Safe Society: Health and Social Safety Nets to Catch Those Who Need Help…
3. National Security: National Defense Reforms, Active International Participation, Peaceful and Stable Cross-strait Relations
A better country requires a greater emphasis on national security. Over the past four years, we have pushed for national defense reforms, active international participation, and peaceful, stable cross-strait relations. We hope that Taiwan can play a more active role in the peace, stability, and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. Over the next four years, the direction of our policies will remain the same, and we will do even more.
●National Defense Reforms
We have three important directions for our national defense reforms. First is accelerating the development of our asymmetrical capabilities. While we work to bolster our defense capabilities, future combat capacity development will also emphasize mobility, countermeasures, and non-traditional asymmetrical capabilities. We will also work to strengthen our defenses against the threats of cyber warfare, cognitive warfare, and “unrestricted” warfare to achieve our strategic goal of multidomain deterrence.
The second is substantive reforms to our military reserve and mobilization systems….
Third is improvements to our military’s management institutions…..
●Active International Participation
Over the past four years, we have actively taken part in addressing major global issues, including counter-terrorism cooperation, humanitarian assistance, religious freedom, and nontraditional security.
Throughout this global pandemic, we have been praised for providing selfless assistance to the international community wherever we are able.
Taiwan has been deemed a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world by the international community. All Taiwanese people should take pride in this.
Over the next four years, we will continue to fight for our participation in international organizations, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with our allies, and bolster ties with the United States, Japan, Europe, and other like-minded countries.
We will also participate more actively in regional cooperation mechanisms and work hand-in-hand with countries in the region to make concrete contributions to peace, stability, and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region.
●Peaceful and Stable Cross-strait Relations
In the face of complex and changing cross-strait circumstances, we have made the greatest effort to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait over the past four years, gaining approval from the international community. We will continue these efforts, and we are willing to engage in dialogue with China and make more concrete contributions to regional security.
Here, I want to reiterate the words “peace, parity, democracy, and dialogue.” We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of “one country, two systems” to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo. We stand fast by this principle.
We will continue to handle cross-strait affairs according to the Constitution of the Republic of China and the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. This has been our consistent position for maintaining the peaceful and stable status quo in the Taiwan Strait.
Cross-strait relations have reached a historical turning point. Both sides have a duty to find a way to coexist over the long term and prevent the intensification of antagonism and differences. Faced with changing circumstances, I will hold firm to my principles, adopt an open attitude to resolve issues, and shoulder my responsibilities as President. I also hope that the leader on the other side of the Strait will take on the same responsibility, and work with us to jointly stabilize the long-term development of cross-strait relations.
While we work to achieve national development, it is crucial that we optimize our government institutions over the next four years. Our Legislative Yuan will establish a constitutional amendment committee, giving us a platform to engage in dialogue and reach a consensus on constitutional reforms pertaining to government systems and people’s rights.
This democratic process will enable the constitutional system to progress with the times and align with the values of Taiwanese society. Our first priority should be to lower the voting age from 20 to 18, an issue on which both the majority and opposition parties are in agreement. …
All constitutional institutions must also continue on the path of reform. The Executive Yuan will reevaluate and reinitiate its organizational reform process, including the establishment of a specialized digital development agency and adjustments to all ministries in line with current needs. This will enable governance capabilities to be more responsive to the needs of national development.
The National Human Rights Commission under the Control Yuan will officially be established in August of this year. This will be a milestone in our journey to place human rights at the center of Taiwan’s national ethos, and marks the start of a new chapter for the Control Yuan.
Our new Examination Yuan team will be instated in September, and I will ask them to propose a comprehensive reform plan and evaluate past policies, so that they can become an effective human resource department that can cultivate the talent a modern government needs.
My fellow citizens, over the past 70 years, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has grown more resilient and unified through countless challenges. We have resisted the pressure of aggression and annexation. We have made the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. Although we were once isolated in the world, we have always persisted in the values of democracy and freedom, no matter the challenges ahead of us. We will always remain committed to our common belief: Taiwan must help ourselves to help others, and when we help ourselves, others will help us.
Many of the heroes in our fight against COVID-19 are here with us today, including members of our national face mask team, our Central Epidemic Command Center’s public health team, and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s team.
There are many more heroes from all walks of life not in attendance today: medical workers, postal workers, pharmacists, convenience store clerks, taxi drivers, and many more.
I may not be able to call out all of your names, but I want everyone to know that Taiwan has overcome countless challenges over the past 70 years, relying on not just one or two heroes, but thanks to countless heroes such as yourselves, working together to turn the wheels of history. You have helped make Taiwan a happy, safe, and prosperous place for generations to come.
I want to express my respect to all of you. Every single person in Taiwan is a hero. Vice President Lai and I are honored to take on the responsibility you have entrusted to us.
Taking on the responsibility of the President of the Republic of China in such difficult times brings me more pressure than joy. But I will not back down, because all of you are with me.
The path forward will not be easy, and greater challenges await us. But we are a country that has persevered through even the greatest hardships. We, the 23 million people, have always been and will always be a community with a shared destiny.
I truly hope that all of my fellow citizens will remember how it felt to come together to overcome the challenges of the past few months. The Republic of China can be united. Taiwan can be safe. Being Taiwanese can be an honor that makes you hold your head high.
My dear citizens, the path ahead of us is long, and we are about to begin a new chapter in Taiwan’s story. Taiwan’s story belongs to each and every one of us, and it needs each and every one of us.
I ask that the 23 million people of Taiwan act as our guides and partners. Let us pool our wisdom and courage and make this country a better place together. Thank you.
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