President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called on the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to model itself on the Republic of China (ROC), which he said “remade itself in Taiwan” during the past six decades.
Yesterday marked the centennial of the beginning of the Xinhai Revolution, which ended imperial rule in China and led to the establishment of the ROC by Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙).
Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) on Sunday made an appeal for unification with Taiwan, saying Taiwan and China should achieve “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation” together.
Hu’s speech was characterized by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) as a “stark denial” of the assertion under the so-called “1992 consensus” that each side could have its own interpretation of “one China.” The consensus has been a cornerstone of Ma’s cross-strait policy.
Ma’s Double Ten National Day speech did not respond to Hu’s call, but toward the conclusion, Ma said: “The republic’s road ahead and Taiwan’s future lie in the hands of our 23 million people.”
However, like Hu, Ma used the same term Zhonghua minzu (中華民族) when he described the people of both sides of the Taiwan Strait, while the official English version of his speech translated the term as “ethnically Chinese.”
Titled “A Century of Struggle, a Democratic Taiwan,” Ma divided his speech into three parts — “Why we commemorate the Xinhai Revolution,” “The ROC remakes itself in Taiwan” and “New prospects to unfold with a golden decade.”
Commemorating the Xinhai Revolution, which he called “a memory and heritage shared by both sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Ma encouraged China to “courageously move in the direction” of a free and democratic nation set by Sun.
Ma also urged China to “face the existence of the Republic of China head-on” as the ROC’s existence “is referred to not in the past tense, but in the present.”
“Had it not been for the retrocession of Taiwan from Japan to the republic, the setbacks encountered by ROC armed forces in the civil war against the communists in mainland China might have spelled the death of the republic more than six decades ago, with no chance for a transformative rebirth or possibility of development of the two sides of the Strait along different trajectories,” Ma said.
The ideals that Sun sought in establishing the republic were not achieved in China during his lifetime, but have come to full fruition in Taiwan, with Taiwanese now enjoying freedom, democracy and affluence, Ma said.
The country has cultivated an image that is “free and democratic; robust and innovative; caring and compassionate; and globally engaged and self-confident,” Ma said, citing various individuals and their stories as examples.
Turning to the future, Ma reiterated his campaign pledge and slogan that he would usher in a “golden decade” of prosperity in his second term if he were re-elected.
“In the face of the pressure of global competition, the next decade will be a critical period for us. We must strive to fully realize our vision for a golden decade. We must remain confidently engaged with the world, pursuing development through innovation, and moving forward in the spirit of social justice,” he said.
Ma said the 15 agreements his administration has signed with China since May 2008 all conformed to the principle of “parity, dignity and reciprocity, while putting Taiwan first for the benefit of its people.”