Sun, Oct 10, 2004 - Page 1 News List

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President Chen's Address to the National Day Rally

Mr. Chairman, Foreign Dignitaries, Distinguished Guests and Fellow Citizens: Good morning!

Let me begin by expressing our sincere appreciation to our distinguished guests, who have come from afar, and to our friends who have extended their support to Taiwan over the years. Thank you all for joining us here--together with the 23 million people of Taiwan--to celebrate the ninety-third birthday of the Republic of China.

To the people of Taiwan, 2004 is a year to be remembered: Olympians representing Taiwan in Athens had, for the first time in history, gallantly captured the first and second gold medals of this nation--for themselves, for Taiwan, and as an answer to the yearning of 23 million people of our country. Decades from now, the accounts of Taiwan's triumphant moments in the Olympic Games will continue to leave indelible imprints in the chronicle of Taiwan and in our collective memory.

When Taiwan's first gold medal was conferred officially, waves of emotions swept through the hearts of our athletes and millions of our fellow citizens, who witnessed that glorious moment in history with tears of joy streaming down their faces. Perhaps those not from Taiwan find it difficult to comprehend the bittersweet sentiment so deeply felt by all of us--one that stems from a profound regret that our gold medallists are forbidden to sing our national anthem and salute our national flag, and that our only recourse is to make a loud appeal to the international media: "I am from Taiwan!"

This is the "Story of Taiwan"--an arduous journey that never ceases to engender new chapters of glory and success. In the past half a century, the 23 million of people of Taiwan toiled tirelessly on this land to bring about economic developments and democratic achievements--their indefatigable spirits and unfaltering strengths fill the pages of the same moving story of Taiwan.

Today, we have invited our Olympic and Paralympic champions to lead the chorus of our National Anthem. In a song that entwines our people with the remembrance of our glorious past, we honor the "Heroes of Taiwan"; and as sounds of our national Anthem reach far beyond the horizon, we join here today with our Olympic heroes as a symbolic gesture that each and every one of you, my fellow citizens, is a hero of Taiwan.

Taiwan is a small country. Facing a multitude of challenges and vigorous competition, we must stand tall on the international stage, relying only on our intrinsic capabilities. External difficulties should make us more united internally. The transfer of governing power between political parties and the actualization of democratic ideas serve to strengthen our nation and improve our international competitiveness. We cannot afford to dwell upon the victory or defeat of each election, nor can we allow our nation to remain stagnant and our society divided. The long-term authoritarian government of the past has brought about inappropriate and defective policy regarding ethnic groups and discrepancy in national identity. After the alternation of political party in power, we must seize new opportunities for rebuilding solidarity, instead of dwelling on distractive confrontation.

In my inauguration speech of this year, I specifically called attention to the issues of identity and ethnicity, which constitute serious matters that cannot be denied or deliberately overlooked in today's society. My colleagues and I, in the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as the governing party, will lead the way in addressing such issues. We will take the first step and begin with candid self-reflection. Just this past September, the DPP passed a binding resolution of supremacy--the Resolution on Ethnic Diversity and National Unity. Soon after the National Day celebration, the Executive Yuan will convene a "Conference on Ethnic and Cultural Development," for which much time and effort have been devoted towards its fruition. These concrete actions signify the beginning of mutual understanding, rather than an end to our own introspection.

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