DPP 25th Anniversary Reception for Foreign Diplomats and Representatives - Sept. 28, 2011

DPP Chair and Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen spoke to members of the foreign diplomatic community at a reception to celebrate the DPP's 25th Anniversary. Below are her remarks:

Distinguished guests of the diplomatic community, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

As Chair of the Democratic Progressive Party, it is my pleasure to welcome you here on this occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the party. For many years, the DPP had the tradition of hosting an annual diplomatic reception to celebrate our anniversary. Unfortunately this tradition was suspended after 2008, when the party was going through a difficult period of recovery. I am happy that today we are able to resume this tradition of celebrating the growth of the DPP with our international friends.

My party has come a long way since September 28, 1986, when a group of courageous democracy activists, fearless of the threat to their lives and imprisonment, broke the Martial Law ban on political parties, to establish the DPP. Throughout the past twenty-five years, from street rallies to the offices of government, the DPP’s commitment to democracy and bettering the lives of the Taiwanese people has been unwavering. The DPP has played a pivotal role to promote the structural changes in our political system, mainly in the transition from a one-party authoritarian state to a multi-party and open democracy. But beyond that, the DPP has also championed a number of public policy issues that have brought about fundamental improvements to the quality of life in Taiwan.

Over and over again, our positions have been tested through debates and elections, and today we are able to stand strong with confidence, because we have demonstrated our resilience through trials in Taiwan’s democratic process. After eight years in national government, superb performance in local government, and over three years of reflection and reconstruction since 2008, the DPP today is more experienced and prepared than ever for the opportunity to govern again.

In the 2012 elections, we speak about “Taiwan Next,” for we want to look to the future. Our past struggles to overcome hardship serve as an important foundation for our strengthened resolve, but what we want to do is to lead Taiwan into the future through responsible and accountable government. Domestically, we are working hard to respond to the needs of the people, to address their concerns regarding jobs, the economy, social services, housing, energy, and the environment. We emphasize the need to realize true social justice, so that the Taiwanese people have fair and free opportunities to pursue a quality life. Internationally, we take a balanced and open approach, seeking to proactively engage with the world including China while at the same time working to manage the risks involved. The element of openness to the world has become part of the Taiwanese identity, and we hope the international community will be as open to Taiwan as we are to the world.

Since being nominated presidential candidate of the DPP, I have taken a number of trips abroad: to Europe, Southeast Asia, and the United States. And next Monday I will be traveling to Japan. These trips illustrate the importance the DPP places on our foreign relations.

On my visit to Europe, we emphasized dialogue on climate and energy issues; in the Philippines, where I attended the Congress of Liberal International along with many other liberal parties from around the world, we spoke about democracy, human rights, and open societies; in the United States, we worked to reinforce our partnership and had a number of conversations on regional security and cross-strait relations. Next week in Japan, a country which has a unique historical and cultural relationship with Taiwan, we will continue to emphasize regional cooperation. Taiwan’s immediate response to Japan’s tsunami tragedy earlier this year demonstrates that the people of Taiwan are willing and able to be reliable partners in the region, jointly dealing with challenges and contributing significantly to rebuilding and progress.

As a political party, the DPP has been through various stages of development. Over the years, some things have changed, and some have not. For twenty-five years, we have been persistent in promoting the fundamental values of human rights, democracy, and social justice; we have insisted on standing by the under-privileged and disadvantaged sectors, developing policies to ensure that they also have fair opportunities in society; we have also worked tirelessly to enhance Taiwan’s international participation.

But there are also some areas where the DPP has transformed in stages. While the leaders of the party in our early years had no choice but to put all of their efforts into dismantling the authoritarian system, the new generation has had to quickly accumulate expertise and experiences in a different set of challenges: global changes, external threats, and growing domestic social and economic insecurities. Therefore while the founding members were tested for their courage, the new generation of DPP leaders will be tested for our ability to manage and govern.

We believe that the way for the DPP to win in 2012 is not just by criticizing the current government’s incompetence. Instead, we shall win by convincing the people that we are more competent and mature than the KMT; we shall win by presenting policy choices that are more progressive and responsive to the real needs of the people; and we shall win by being the positive force that transcends the divisiveness of the past, and unites the people of Taiwan.

To the international community, we will continue to be a transparent and open political party, and whether we are in the middle of elections or not, we will proactively engage to ensure that our goals and interests are well communicated. Present here today, in addition to my running mate Su Jia-Chyuan, are a number of DPP policy advisors and colleagues. We are a team, and collectively we will work on not only winning our elections, but in governing and making Taiwan an active participant and contributor in the international community.

Thank you again for coming here today to witness the DPP’s growth and to celebrate our 25th birthday. Taiwan’s democracy requires your support, and regardless of the outcome of the elections, you will find the DPP to be a reliable partner, friend, and a willing contributor to democracy and progress around the world.

Now, I would like to ask my running mate Su Jia-Chyuan to join me to propose a toast to our friendship and to democracy.

Thank you.