President Tsai Ing-wen vowed to build a stronger Taiwan by boosting national security, economic competitiveness and the social safety net in her Double Tenth National Day address delivered Oct. 10 in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei City.
In the face of dramatic changes in international politics and economics and the expansion of China’s influence, the country will pursue a strategy of stability, adaptability and progress rooted in national strength, Tsai said. “The best way to defend Taiwan is to make it indispensable and irreplaceable to the world.”
The president’s address was broadcast live on television and the internet and delivered before an audience of thousands of citizens and dignitaries from home and abroad. It was followed by the annual Double Tenth National Day parade featuring colorful floats as well as a flyover by five air force Mirage 2000 fighter jets.
Among the local officials in attendance were Vice President Chen Chien-jen, Legislative Yuan President Su Jia-chyuan, Premier Lai Ching-te and the leaders of the opposition Kuomintang, New Power Party and People First Party. Foreign guests included Paraguay President Mario Abdo Benitez, St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and St. Kitts and Nevis Governor-General Sir S. W. Tapley Seaton as well as delegations from Germany, Japan, South Africa and the U.S.
According to Tsai, over the past year all countries have been tested by the shifting international landscape and Taiwan is no exception. China’s diplomatic offensive and military coercion have seriously challenged the cross-strait status quo, she said, adding that these actions have caused concern in the global community.
The president urged Beijing to play a positive role in the region and the world instead of being a source of conflict. Taiwan will not be provoked into confrontations that endanger cross-strait relations, she said, but will remain composed and work to protect the nation’s free and democratic way of life, safeguard its sustainable development and maintain peace and stability.
“In facing changing international circumstances, our strategic choice is clear, and that is to staunchly defend freedom, democracy and the market economy,” she said.
Tsai outlined challenges to Taiwan’s national security beyond traditional defense and military concerns in such areas as diplomatic pressure, social infiltration and economics.
The president identified four approaches to fortifying the country against these threats: fostering value-based diplomatic links; upgrading national defense capabilities based on the strategy of resolute defense and multidomain deterrence; preventing foreign powers from infiltrating and subverting society; and adjusting Taiwan’s role in regional development and global supply chains.
Taiwan’s defense budget will also grow steadily every year, the president said. “In the future, our national defense industry will not only strengthen military capabilities, but will also become a key driving force for industrial development.”
According to Tsai, Taiwan will pursue three major objectives in realigning its position in supply chains. First, the country will seek to establish close links in cutting-edge manufacturing and R&D with advanced economies like the U.S., Europe and Japan.
Second, Taiwan will work to expand mutually beneficial cooperation with New Southbound Policy countries and other high-growth economies. Third, the government will deepen collaboration with diplomatic allies on sustainable development so as to open new markets and cultivate global bases of operation for Taiwan enterprises.
On the domestic front, the government’s farsighted, technology-focused economic policies are delivering tangible benefits, Tsai said. “We are using a fresh mindset to dismantle outdated structures and remove obstacles to competition, guiding industry toward new opportunities.”
The five-plus-two industrial innovation program is raising manufacturing standards in key sectors like aerospace, Internet of Things and medical devices, with the output value of Taiwan’s machinery industry exceeding NT$1 trillion (US$32.13 billion) last year, the president said.
Progress is also being made under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, which will prioritize investment in digitization, green energy, railways, urban-rural development and water resources projects going forward.
With structural transformation and infrastructure construction underway and the investment environment showing improvement, Taiwan’s economy is rebounding and displaying signs of stable growth, Tsai said, noting that real earnings hit an all-time high last year, while in the first five months of 2018 unemployment fell to an 18-year low for the period.
According to Tsai, a major focus of government policy is ensuring this growth dividend is shared among all sectors of society. This is being accomplished through promoting tax equality, raising wages for public sector workers and creating a sound social security net.
On the latter front, the government has initiated a range of social housing projects, with 24,000 units either completed or under development. Other measures include the Long-term Care Plan 2.0 to provide community-based health and support services for elderly and disabled citizens as well as publically funded child care aimed at boosting Taiwan’s birthrate.
“Our country’s course of development is changing,” Tsai said. “Change should not be feared because we change to adapt to a shifting world so that Taiwan can continue to stand tall.”
Describing Taiwan as a beacon, Tsai said that the nation’s democratic transition illuminated its path through darkness and now stands as a shining example for people throughout the region who long for these values.
“We have always believed that our distinctive resilience allows Taiwanese to respond to never-ending internal and external challenges by coming together to make this country better.”
Source: Taiwan Today (https://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=2&post=143140)