Taiwan - Beautiful both in Shape and Heart
Representative John Chen’s remarks at the 104th National Day of the Republic of China (Taiwan)
Members of the Diplomatic Corps, Honorable Parliamentarians, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good evening!
On behalf of the people and government of the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan, I wish to extend the warmest welcome and many sincere thanks to all of you joining us here this evening to celebrate the 104th birthday of my country in advance.
Born, Turbulent, Divided
The Republic of China was born in 1912, but since then until 1949, the republic had been plagued by a series of turbulences, such as fraction of the country caused by warlords, the Japanese Aggression, and the Communist Rebellion which led to a civil war.
Photo (l-r): VEN Mentor Yichun, Guang Shan,Nan Hua Temple, Madam Ruey-Jy Wu and her daughter, H.E. Ambassador John Chen, Representative of the Taipei Liaison Office in the Republic of South Africa, Ms. Nthabiseng Pauline Khunou, African National Congress, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, Mr. Ching-Nan Huang, Commissioner, Overseas Community Affairs Council and Mr. Jiu –Jeng Gan, Senior Adviser, Overseas Community Affairs Council
As a result, in 1949, the republic was divided into two parts, Mainland China and Taiwan. Consequently, the government of the Republic of China relocated itself to Taiwan in December, 1949. Thereafter, Taiwan and Mainland China became two separate political entities under different jurisdiction.
After moving to Taiwan, the ROC government introduced basic elements of democratic rule to the island. After numerous central and local government elections, in particular, 5 direct presidential elections as well as twice peaceful transfer of power, Taiwan nowadays has become a fully-fledged democracy
Economic Achievements of Taiwan
Over the past 6 decades, Taiwan has transformed itself from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy, and now, it is a post-industrial economy which is service economy.
Many far-sighted policies had been implemented successfully such as: Land to the Tillers, Development of Import Substitution and Export-Oriented Industries, Ten Major Construction Projects, Development of Technology-Intensive Industries so forth and so on. Those policies, among others, result in the economic miracle in Taiwan as what we are witnessing today.
Through concerted efforts by the government and the people, Taiwan has overcome many difficulties and problems such as scarcity of natural resources, a less than sufficient small domestic market, and high population density etc.
It has also tided over Asian financial crisis in 1997 and world-wide financial crisis in 2008.
Time and again, people in Taiwan have demonstrated to the world its resilience and perseverance and thus maintain its momentum for continuous development.
Now, allow me to share with you some key economic indicators about Taiwan.
The economic growth rate last year reached 3.74%, which was the highest growth rate in the past 3 years and also surpassed the growth rates of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Korea
Taiwan’s unemployment rate in February of this year fell to 3.69%, the lowest level in 15 years for that month.
Taiwan’s GDP per capita calculated by Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) ranks 17th, surpassing Germany, UK, Korea and Japan.
There are more global survey rankings about Taiwan this year also worth mentioning: In terms of Economic Freedom surveyed by Heritage Foundation in 2015, Taiwan ranks 15. In terms of Competitiveness surveyed by International Institute for Management Development, Taiwan ranks 11.
In terms of foreign reserve, it ranks 5.
Taiwan always ranks among the top five foreign countries in the number of patents obtained from the US Patent and trade Office each year. Considering its size and population, Taiwan should be considered the most innovative country in the world. It is number one globally in terms of patent per capita.
Dear friends, do you happen to know that Taiwan is a leading country in the world in production of essential items of high tech industry? For instance: Semiconductor, optoelectronics, and ICT products made by Taiwanese companies account for over 70% of their respective global markets. Taiwan ranks 1st worldwide in production value of semiconductors, wafer foundries, and IC packaging. Taiwan ranks 2nd in the world in production value of IC design and TFT-LCD panels. Taiwan ranks 2nd globally in production of solar cells. Taiwan ranks 3rd globally in production value of PCs (laptops). With these amazing hi-tech indicators, Taiwan has become a high-tech flagship in the world. It is a small country but a giant in the high-tech sphere.
Pictured toasting are (l-r): Mr. Jiu –Jeng Gan, Senior Adviser, Overseas Community Affairs Council, Ms. Linda Blackbeard, Manager, Randburg Chamber of Commerce & Industry (RCCI), H.E. Ambassador John Chen, Representative of the Taipei Liaison Office in the Republic of South Africa, Ms. Nthabiseng Pauline Khunou, African National Congress, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, Dr. Ivor Zwane, Chairperson, Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA), Department of Trade and Industry, Mr. Ching-Nan Huang, Commissoner, Overseas Community Affairs Council, Mr. Tsepo Monaheng, CEO of DENEL Dynamics, Mr. John Chuang, President, Gauteng Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce and General Dennis Earp, Former Chief of South African Air Force
Beautiful both in Shape and Heart
Ladies and gentlemen, Taiwan has not only been making great achievements in economic and high tech fields, it is also winning people’s heart with its soft power.
Thomas L Friedman, a well-known American writer, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner, says that other than his own country, Taiwan is his most favorite country. He once wrote, “…because rather than digging in the ground and mining whatever comes up, Taiwan has mined its 23 million people, their talent, energy and intelligence.”
He said to the effect that: Taiwan has no oil, no iron ore, no forests, no diamonds, no gold, and just because of that Taiwan developed the habits and culture of honing its people’s skills, which turns out to be the most valuable and only truly renewable resource in the world.
Taiwan is a standard bearer of Chinese culture. Taiwanese people preserve the most essential values of Chinese culture. People in Taiwan are friendly, polite, and always ready to extend help to others. Although in Taiwan there are not many of those superficial grandiose symbols of Chinese architecture, no Great Wall, no Imperial Palaces etc., however, Taiwan stands tall in keeping and manifesting the essence, the best features of Chinese tradition.
Taiwan is also known as Ilha Formosa (which means “a beautiful island”). Actually, it is not only beautiful in landscapes, it is even more beautiful in the heart of its people.
Many visitors, including intellectual elite from mainland China, after traveling to Taiwan, say that the most beautiful scenery in Taiwan is its people.
Now I would like to touch upon our relations with mainland China.
The development of cross-strait ties is crucial to peace in the Asia-Pacific region and has long been a focus of the international community.
Over the past seven years, the government has consistently sought, under the framework of the ROC Constitution, to maintain the status quo of “no unification, no independence, and no use of force” in the Taiwan Strait, and to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait ties under the “1992 Consensus”, whereby each side acknowledges the existence of “one China” but maintains its own interpretation of what that means.
This has helped to underpin an increase in the breadth and depth of bilateral interaction.
So far, Taiwan and Mainland China have signed 23 agreements, most importantly, the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.
People make roughly eight million visits across the Taiwan Strait each year.
Generally speaking, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are coexisting reasonably well.
Bilateral Relations between Taiwan and South Africa
Subsequently, allow me to brief you on the bilateral relations between Taiwan and South Africa.
The ROC and South Africa share the core values of freedom, democracy, rule of law, and human rights.
The bilateral relations between our two countries have made substantial progress in the past year. The latest session of the Taiwan-South Africa Dialogue Forum was convened in Taipei in April this year, during which a bilateral arrangement on legal cooperation was agreed upon and signed later on.
Up to now, Taiwan and South Africa have signed 8 agreements since 1998, covering such areas as mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, arts and culture, agriculture, forestry and fishery, police matters, and small and medium-sized enterprises.
Generally speaking, Taiwan and South Africa have good cooperation in all the above mentioned fields.
Bilateral Trade between Taiwan and South Africa
Bilateral trade amounted to 25 billion Rand in 2014, with South Africa enjoying a trade surplus. Taiwan is South Africa’s 26th largest trade partner, while South Africa is Taiwan’s 35th largest trade partner.
The trade between the two countries is complementary, with Taiwan exporting manufactured products and importing raw materials.
Taiwanese Investments in SA
Accumulated Taiwanese investments in South Africa have reached 27 billion Rand.
Some 800 Taiwanese companies in South Africa operate in such industries as textiles, plastics, electronics, wood, and metal, and employ 40,000 local workers.
Humanitarian Aids Provider
People in Taiwan not only work hard on economic and social development for themselves, but also make great efforts in providing humanitarian aids to others.
Now whenever serious natural disasters strike any part of the world, Taiwan would be ready to provide humanitarian aid. For instance, among other examples, Taiwan provided immediate assistance and made generous donations to Japan, following 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Taiwan also made a significant donation to Nepal – following the devastating Gorkha earthquake and massive landslides there on 12 May 2015, even though Nepal has not been friendly to Taiwan.
With the same humanitarian spirit, Taiwanese diaspora in South Africa set up many non-profit charity organizations, including Nan-Hwa Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, the International Buddha’s Light Association, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation, the Amitofo Charity Association, Yiguandao, etc. They use South Africa as a base to conduct charity work, build schools, offer care to orphans, provide education, build wells, and distribute food aid across the African continent.
You may say that people from Taiwan not only make great efforts in taking good care of themselves, but also try their best to take care of others.
Finally, I would like to conclude my remarks with one simple sentence: “We are doing fine, and we can do better”.
Now, together with some dear friends representing all the guests tonight, allow me to propose a toast: “Happy birthday to Taiwan! Peace and prosperity to Taiwan and South Africa! Health and success to everyone! Cheers!!”
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