President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said in his New Year’s address yesterday that Taiwan’s future should be decided by its 23 million people and that both sides of the Taiwan Strait must not fight over political power, but work together for core values.
“The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should not fight over political power, unification or independence, or international space,” Ma said. “They should be motivating each other to upgrade core values such as freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”
As the Republic of China (ROC) celebrates the centennial of its founding this year, Ma vowed to dedicate the next 10 years to building a “golden decade” for Taiwan and laying a foundation for another 100 years of the ROC.
“The prospects of the country and future of Taiwan are in the hands of its 23 million people,” he said. “We will use our strength to protect the sovereignty of the ROC, our actions to defend Taiwan’s dignity and our wisdom to build Taiwan’s future.”
In yesterday’s address, entitled “Building up Taiwan, Invigorating Chinese Heritage,” Ma said cross-strait peace is the cornerstone of peace and prosperity in East Asia and the joint responsibility of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
He urged the two sides to deepen their exchanges, better understand each other, accumulate more mutual trust and gradually resolve differences. Under the guidance of “the wisdom of Chinese culture (中華文化智慧),” Ma said he hoped both sides could build a better future for the “Chinese nation.”
For the next century, Ma said he would like to see the ROC become a navigator of Chinese culture (中華文化), a model of democracy in the Chinese community (華人世界) and a global innovation center.
The ROC is an independent sovereignty, Ma said, and he hoped someday all yan huang zisun (炎黃子孫, or descendants of emperors Yan and Huang) would enjoy a way of life that is free, democratic and follows the rule of law. He believed that the dream would soon come true and that China could learn from Taiwan’s experience of democratization.
Ma’s comment on Taiwan’s future echoed that made by Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛), who recently said the 23 million Taiwanese have the right to free choice in terms of Taiwan’s future.
During an international forum on cross-strait relations in Taipei early last month, Lai laid down what she called the seven core interests of Taiwanese. They are democracy, sovereignty, security, the right to meaningful participation in international organizations, the right not to be discriminated against, the right for the disadvantaged to survive and the right to free choice on the future of cross-strait relations.
Her comment, however, was questioned by Control Yuan member Chou Yang-shan (周陽山), who said the right to free choice ran counter to a core value of the ROC Constitution, a precondition of which is “national unification” with China.
Meanwhile, the council yesterday offered a boilerplate answer to Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) New Year address in which Hu said China would insist on -peaceful unification and “one country, two systems” when pushing for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
MAC Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun (劉德勳) said both sides have used institutionalized negotiation mechanisms to resolve many problems. The Ma government would continue to negotiate with China and deepen cross-strait exchanges under the framework of the ROC Constitution and ensure that Taiwan is always the focus and the people’s interest comes first, Liu added.
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