President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday in her New Year’s Day speech praised Taiwan’s successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic and made the case for the nation’s growing importance on the international stage.
In her speech, delivered from the Presidential Office, Tsai said that for many around the world, last year was a year of disrupted routines, economic hardship and steadily rising deaths caused by COVID-19.
Taiwan, by contrast, was fortunate to have responded early and was thus able to “defeat” the virus through a shared commitment to professionalism, mutual trust and social cohesion, she said.
Taiwan has faced many challenges over the past year, but it also has good reasons to be optimistic, including the strong performance of local businesses, stable employment numbers and government investment in emerging technologies, Tsai said.
“Over the past year, Taiwan has achieved what the whole world is longing for — a normal lifestyle. That is quite an accomplishment,” she said, adding that ensuring people can lead a normal life and working toward a global economic recovery would be her top priorities this year.
“From a global standpoint, Taiwan is more important than ever,” she said, adding that stabilizing relations across the Taiwan Strait is no longer an issue solely for Taiwan and China, but “a concern for the whole Indo-Pacific region” and “a focus of international attention.”
Tsai said that China had “undermined” its relations with Taiwan through its constant military activity around the nation, but she reaffirmed that her administration would not “act rashly” in response.
“We are willing to facilitate meaningful dialogue under the principles of parity and dignity, as long as the Beijing authorities sincerely want to resolve differences and improve cross-strait relations,” she said.
When the pandemic is over, Taiwan looks forward to the gradual return of people-to-people exchanges across the Strait to improve mutual understanding, Tsai added.
For the first time in a New Year’s Day addresses, Tsai spoke in English, directing a portion of her remarks to an international audience.
She said that Taiwan was proud to have worked alongside the international community to confront the challenges posed by COVID-19 and to have shown the world that “Taiwan can help.”
“As a force for good in the world, we will continue to be an indispensable member of the international community, both now and into the future,” she said.
Tsai also expressed gratitude for the international backing Taiwan has received amid the regional and global challenges it faces.
“Our democracy is stronger because of your support,” she said.
Tsai said that she was honored to have overcome, together with Taiwanese, the many challenges of last year and called for the nation to “continue to pull together” in the new year.
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