TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Amid escalating aggression from China in the region, Taiwanese Vice President Lai Ching-te (賴清德) emphasized on Sunday (April 25) that Taiwan is a sovereign state and that "the two [nations] are not affiliated with each other."
"Only [Taiwan’s] 23 million people can decide the future of the nation," Lai continued.
In his opening remarks at this year's "Global Taiwan National Affairs Symposium," Lai listed six principles the Taiwan government promises to its people: safeguarding sovereignty with no room for compromise; maintaining a free and democratic way of life with no infringement; honoring commitments to build a prosperous country that benefits everyone; guaranteeing the people the power to decide the future of the nation; being dedicated to stable and peaceful developments across the Taiwan Strait; and promoting peace in the Indo-Pacific region.
The symposium, organized by elite political group Taiwan Nation Alliance, highlighted the need for Taiwan to become a normal country and discussed issues of peace and security in the Asia Pacific region.
"It is an undebatable fact that Taiwan is not subordinate to China," Lai said. "No one but the 23 million people who live on this piece of land are entitled to the rights to decide the future of the nation," he added.
The physician-turned politician also lamented the deterioration of human rights under Chinese leader Xi Jinping's (習近平) rule, which has worsened under Beijing's digital dictatorship that reinforces the surveillance of citizens, the ethnic cleansing of Uyghurs, and the demolition of Hong Kong’s freedom and autonomy under the "one country, two systems" framework promised decades ago.
"China's bullying and aggression against Taiwan are becoming more ruthless, such as by poaching Taiwan's allies and blocking the country's participation in the WHA and other international organizations," Lai said. Luckily the country has managed the challenges well and with national unity under President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) strong leadership, he added.
"Taiwan reported far fewer COVID-19 cases compared to other countries and recorded a strong economic growth rate of 3.11% in 2020 when most countries suffered from economic disruption at unprecedented levels during the pandemic,” Lai explained. “These accomplishments should be attributed to good government teamwork under Tsai's leadership and to frontline medical workers as well as to all Taiwanese people."
In addition to Lai, Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), a senior advisor to the president and former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman, also delivered a speech at the symposium.
Serving as a co-chair of the DPP's Constitutional Reform Panel, Yao proposed changing the nation's name to the "Republic of Taiwan" from the "Republic of China," the official though misleading name of Taiwan at present. A potential name change has been touted as one of the solutions that could help Taiwan to normalize as a state.