TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – On Feb. 15, at the start of the Lunar New Year holidays, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered a special address to her fellow Taiwanese citizens.
The following is an English translation of her address:
Greetings everyone, today on the eve of the Lunar New Year, when everyone is together with their families, I would like to wish all my compatriots and fellow citizens health and happiness, and many blessings in the year ahead.
I am currently in the “Rainbow Hall” (虹廳) of the Presidential Office Building. The painting behind me is called “Heaven Bless Hualien” (天佑花蓮).
Many notable figures who have visited this hall have been deeply impressed by this painting. It is the work of artist Lin XingYue (林惺嶽). Lin once told me that he came upon this scene once as he was travelling through the Huatong Valley (花東縱谷). He was so moved that he immediately decided to stay until he had finished this work.
On Feb.6, the beautiful city of Hualien was struck by a tremendous earthquake, causing serious damage and many casualties, filling the hearts of those in Hualien with fear.
I would like to take this opportunity to speak to our friends in Hualien; I want you all to rest assured, that no matter what may come, all of Taiwan stands with the people of Hualien.
Last worker rescued from the Marshal Hotel in Hualien (CNA Image)
As Taiwan is located in an active fault zone, we must be more vigilant in our efforts towards crisis preparedness and response, even more so than other countries.
In addition to assisting with reconstruction and recovery in Hualien, the government is committed to making an island-wide survey to make an inventory of buildings that are at risk in the event of an earthquake. We will work efficiently at the national level, to reinforce these buildings and remedy such safety concerns.
While the government is of course unable to stop earthquakes from occurring, we can establish a thorough and effective program of disaster preparedness to minimize the damage incurred when an earthquake happens. Such efforts have already begun.
Since the earthquake, I have been to Hualien twice, and both times I saw the national army fully mobilized, along with search and rescue units from many counties and cities, all working to rescue and assist those in need with selfless resolve. And I have witnessed Taiwanese society, full of love, rise in support and solidarity.
Various businesses have opened their doors, to offer accommodation for those in need; people across the private sector came forward unbidden to offer their services and resources to help secure buildings in danger of collapse. A group of young people who wanted to help, came to provide breakfast to the famished relief workers.
During this time of crisis, we have witnessed people come together to help one another, reflecting one of the most beautiful aspects of our shared human nature.
I want to encourage all of you; this is our Taiwan. When united as one, we will not be defeated by such disasters. In the midst of crisis and fear, Taiwanese people must always remember this.
I would also encourage everyone to remember the condolences and assistance offered to Taiwan by our friends in the international community following the earthquake. Where today others have shown us kindness, tomorrow we will return such goodwill tenfold. This is a true reflection of the Taiwanese spirit.
Relief workers bow to ambulance carrying injured survivors (CNA Image)
In the earthquake, nine of the victims who lost their lives were tourists visiting from China. As I have said previously, when it comes to humanitarian aid, there is no distance between us. We did our very best.
To the families of those whose lives were lost, we express our greatest empathy, and hope that in the New Year, you may find peace, and that you may overcome the traumatic loss you have suffered.
The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. From New Year’s Eve to the Lantern Festival, we share many of the same traditions during the Lunar New Year holidays. Over time, the psychological distance between people on each side of the strait has also narrowed, thanks to mutual exchange and shared media.
I would like take this opportunity to extend my greetings to our Chinese friends across the strait, and across the entire world, and to wish you all a “Happy New Year.”
Over the past year, the Taiwanese economy has exceeded expectations, and restored people’s confidence throughout society. Taiwan’s total export value reached the second highest mark in history in 2017, and unemployment has dropped to a 17 year low. A few days ago the Taiwan stock market closed at 10,000, which is only the second time it has done so in its entire history.
Even more importantly, the government is working hard with people across society to reorient the direction of Taiwan’s economy, as we promote the “five plus two” program for industrial innovation. Groundwork laid last year should yield comprehensive benefits to Taiwan’s economy in the coming year, strengthening the country’s industrial infrastructure, and stimulating much needed domestic investment.
This year, as long as industrial competitiveness and economic activity continue apace, the government will be able to introduce targeted measures to address and solve the problem of stagnant wages in the country. We will ensure that every hard working Taiwanese citizen will share in the rewards of the country’s sustained economic growth.
Our growth also provides the country with more power and capability in dealing with external economic challenges and changes that may arise. I am confident in the future of Taiwan.
Lastly, I want to give special thanks to our friends who will be working hard over the Lunar New Year. Tomorrow marks the beginning of a brand new year. Once again, I wish all our compatriots and all of you, the very best in coming year.
The original Chinese transcript of this address can be found here on the official Presidential Office web page.