President Ma Ying-jeou delivered his New Year’s Day message on January 1 at a ceremony commemorating the founding of the Republic of China at the Office of the President. In his remarks, Ma pointed out that his administration would not indulge in wishful thinking by having the development of cross-strait ties determine Taiwan’s external relations. Instead, the government will seek a proper balance between the two, so that cross-strait ties and foreign relations are mutually complementary and can progress together, with neither subordinated to the other. He added that cross-strait détente has helped Taiwan gain more international space and given its people greater willingness and courage to continue strengthening relations with mainland China, thereby creating a virtuous circle involving both issues.
With respect to economic development, Ma noted that 2010 would be crucial for the recovery of Taiwan’s economy. To maintain steady economic growth, domestically the government must be proactive. In addition to improving the economic system and encouraging more far-reaching industrial innovation, it will be necessary for Taiwan to diversify the industrial structure, upgrade traditional industries, and increase the added value of its service industry. Internationally, the nation will have to grasp hold of current trends in the global economy, participate in the regional economic integration of East Asia, and explore and develop new markets.
The president noted that global climate change is another challenge that Taiwan must face. As a member of the global village, Taiwan is willing to set the reduction of CO2 emissions as a key national development goal. The government will set up incentive programs, including plans for carbon trading and tax benefits, and will help enterprises retool their facilities so as to reduce CO2 emissions. Further, the government will throw its weight behind “green” industries to turn Taiwan into a major producer of energy technologies while creating more job opportunities and enhancing the nation’s global competitiveness.
Ma said that the government has resumed cross-strait talks, insisting all the while on parity and dignity. The ROC is a sovereign, independent nation, and Taiwan long ago became a democracy in which sovereignty lies in the hands of the people. Taiwan’s future, as a matter of course, will be decided by its 23 million people. Precisely because the ROC is a democratic country, cross-strait policy must be subject to both supervision by the Legislature and the general public. As to cross-strait agreements that concern the people’s welfare, the government must be responsive to public opinion and increase communication with opposition parties and the people to seek out consensus and gain support.
President Ma emphasized that it was his fervent hope that the ruling and opposition parties engage in dialogue on key policies soon so as to increase mutual trust and create consensus. He shared that there are many issues on which the parties can work together to promote Taiwan’s progress and prosperity, and expressed that witnessing such cooperation was both his personal hope for the new year as well as the expectation of the people.