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President offers agenda of social equity for 2006

Chen touts 'proactive management, effective opening' for cross-strait policy

President offers agenda of social equity for 2006

In a televised New Year's Day address - entitled "Democratic Taiwan: Thriving Onwards" - President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) declared that "melding Taiwan identity, defending national security, upholding democracy and reform, promoting sustainable development and safeguarding social equity" will be the goals of the Democratic Progressive Party government in 2006.

Speaking in the main auditorium of the Office of the President to an audience of dignitaries including Kuomintang Chairman Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Chen also announced a new orientation of "proactive management, effective opening" to guide economic and trade policy with the hostile People's Republic of China.

Chen first spoke on the importance of building a consensus on Taiwan's national identity.

Chen said that in the wake of the transfer of political power from the KMT after nearly 55 years of rule to the DPP in May 2000, development of a citizen consciousness "with Taiwan as the center" had cast off past "shackles" of political dogma and provided the wellspring for "self-identity of the 23 million Taiwan people."

He said that under the question of national identity had become a "serious and unavoidable issue" for people of all ethnicities in Taiwan.

"If we are unable to ascertain our own status or meld a consensus among our citizens about national identity, the Taiwan people will always lack self-confidence and will never be able to unite and gain a firm place on the world stage," Chen warned.

"This is why we must resolutely uphold 'Taiwan consciousness' and why we sincerely urge the leaders of all parties to transcend disputes over 'unification or independence' or ethnicity and work together to commonly forge a basis consensus among the Taiwan people on national identity," Chen stated.

Offering his definition of such a consensus, Chen affirmed that "Taiwan is our country with an area of 36,000 square kilometers. Taiwan's national sovereignty belongs to the 23 million Taiwan people and does not belong to the People's Republic of China. Only the 23 million Taiwan people have the power to decide the future of Taiwan."

Taiwan people should decide

Apparently referring to Ma, Chen related that "an opposition party chairman" had stated in an interview with foreign media that "unification" was the "ultimate goal" of his political party.

"I believe most citizens will have great difficulty identifying with such an advocation, but we can understand and should tolerate it," Chen said.

"Political parties and individuals have the right to have their own advocations, but we cannot therefore abrogate the right of free choice of the Taiwan people as that would violate the basic principle of 'sovereignty rests with the people,'" Chen said.

Chen stressed that the future development of cross-strait relations with the PRC must abide by the "four basic principles" of "sovereignty, democracy, peace and parity."

He declared that "neither the Chinese Nationalist Party or the Chinese Communist Party can utilize any methods that violate these principles to set non-democratic preconditions or to exclude options for free choice for Taiwan's future."

"We must clearly tell the world that only the free will of the 23 million Taiwan people can make the final decision on Taiwan's future," declared Chen.

No more delays

Chen declared that the PRC continued to create a "grave and direct threat to peace in the Taiwan Strait" through its deployment of 784 medium-range missiles aimed at Taiwan and rapid expansion of the capability of the Chinese People's Liberation Army to control the seas and air to complement land, information and electronics and all types of special forces.

Moreover, the president revealed that Beijing had "clearly delineated phased objectives" in its campaign against Taiwan, namely the formation of a comprehensive rapid reaction force capability before 2007, the preparation of a large-scale force capability before 2010 and the possession of a capability for victory in a decisive campaign before 2015.

The president warned that the year-long delay in legislative review of the government's proposed purchases of three advanced defensive weapon systems from the United States had "sparked doubts in international society regarding the willingness of Taiwan to defend itself" and threatened to "inflict irreparable damage to national security."

Chen promised that the Executive branch would respect the views of the Legislature whether or how the budget should be trimmed or whether it should be financed by a special budget or included in annual appropriations.

But Chen insisted that legislative consideration of the bill "absolutely must not be delayed any further."

Chen recalled that, based on the consensus reached during the August 2001 "Economic Development Advisory Conference," the DPP government had adopted a cross-strait economic policy symbolized by the slogan of "active opening and effective management."

Proactive management

The president said the both opening and management were adopted "for the sake of Taiwan's overall interests and not under the pressure of China or for the sake of the individual or selfish interests of business" but for the sake of Taiwan's sustainable development. '"

After four years, Chen said that the only way to "effectively" lower the risks of "opening" to China was through the adoption of an "active" role for the government in the "management" of such links as an "economic security watchman."

"Active management, effective opening" will be the "new concept and new behavior" in cross-strait economic and trade policy in his administration, Chen stated.

Chen said in the face of international competition Taiwan's economic future depended on realizing the economic development strategy of "digging roots in Taiwan and positioning globally" and not simply becoming an appendage to a particular market or single economy, including China and warned that Taiwan industry would not depend on "low-cost labor" and "cutthroat price competition" to build competitiveness.

Chen observed that the massive out-migration of industry had brought in its wake severe structural unemployment that made it difficult for wage levels and domestic demand to rise.

"For the sake of ensuring competitiveness in sustainable development, Taiwan must advance toward a high-value added knowledge-based economy, must realize many reform measures to bolster the economic system and must actively assist industries to transform and upgrade," said the president.

Chen related that the DPP government had already formulated relevant plans, but said that a second EDAC was necessary as "we need to continue to listen to the voices of industry, academia, labor and opposition parties and engage in dialogue and meld consensus for the future national overall economic and trade development strategy."

Social equity and security

Chen added that another reason to hold a second EDAC was to "strive for a new balance point between the revitalization