DPP Chair and Presidential Candidate Tsai Ing-wen is visiting Japan from Oct. 3-5. Below are her remarks at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.
To being with, I wish to give my thanks to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan for hosting me again. This is my second time here, and I am honored to have this opportunity to speak again, not only as Chair of the Democratic Progressive Party, but as the party's presidential candidate. Today, I would like to address the Taiwan-Japan relationship, our approach to China, and our upcoming elections.
There are only a little more than three months ahead until the election, and many people ask me why I choose to travel at this time,to countries and places where most people cannot vote for me. The fact is, the DPP has always put great emphasis on our international relations, and our obligation to engage with the world does not stop during busy election times. Japan is one of Taiwan’s most important partners in the region, and although this is a short visit, it is a meaningful demonstration of our commitment to reinforcing our bilateral relationship.
Japan has a unique historical and cultural relationship with Taiwan. It continues to occupy a special place in the emotions of the Taiwanese people. Twelve years ago when Taiwan was hit by one of the most serious earthquakes in our history, Japanese rescue workers were the first foreigners to come to our assistance. Likewise when Japan suffered through the earthquake and tsunami disaster this March, the people of Taiwan grieved in sympathy with the Japanese people, and Taiwan’s private donations for aid and assistance to Japan were larger than any other country in the world.
It is often in times of tragedy that true friendship is demonstrated, and the affinity that exists between the peoples of Taiwan and Japan illustrates the tight relationship that our two countries share.
This relationship is molded through history, trade,culture, travel, and interpersonal interactions. But it is also based on common interests: We both have interests in maintaining peace and stability, in ensuring that democratic values flourish, and in promoting economic recovery and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region.
We are living in an increasingly complex world, where there are multiple global and internal challenges for all of us: Energy shortage, nuclear safety, the financial crisis, growth stagnation, income disparities, aging societies and the cost of social services, and new non-traditional security issues. At the same time, there are systemic changes where emerging powers may impact the US-led world order in ways that remain uncertain. It is obvious that these uncertainties transcend national boundaries and are increasingly complex, and any solutions must involve multi-lateral, multi-level cooperation.
Taiwan and Japan already have a profound and comprehensive relationship, but more efforts need to be invested in reinforcing our bilateral ties. Our hope is that these efforts must be strong and consistent regardless of which party is in government on either side. The DPP’s commitment to strengthening the relationship was demonstrated during the years that we were in government, but even in opposition, our interest and efforts in deepening the ties have not ceased. In particular, with regards to Japan we have emphasized the following elements (security,democracy, economy and trade, and travel and other areas of interaction) in our broader national security strategy:
The first element I wish to raise is security. We see the Japan-US Security Alliance as a cornerstone for peace and stability in East Asia. Although we are not a formal part of this alliance, the strength and effectiveness of the alliance has a critical impact on our interests. We believe a strong alliance would serve to sustain a strategic balance in the region, as we are all facing the increasing challenge of an expanding and more aggressive Chinese military whose intentions are not entirely transparent. No country can cope with this challenge alone, and neither is an arms race in any party’s interest. It is therefore important to involve all parties to communicate and dialogue, to manage territorial disputes in a peaceful and rational way, to ensure the freedom of navigation, and to enhance transparency in military modernization. And while we all work to decrease the possibility of escalating tensions, it is important to always bear in mind that peace must be backed by strength and a commitment to enhancing our defense.
The second element is democracy. Democracy and justice are common values that link our societies together. Democracy is the foundation for peace that allows our peoples to pursue prosperity and development in a free environment. Japan is the leading democracy in East Asia, and Taiwan is a new and maturing democracy. While we both face internal challenges and are working to enhance good and effective governance, we must also strengthen networks between democracies in Asia, and work to support the growth of civil societies in countries where democratic institutions are not yet in place.
3. Economy and trade
The third element is economy and trade. Taiwan’s economic relationship with Japan extends deep and back to the colonial days, when basic infrastructure was created to serve as a foundation for growth and development over the last century. In recent decades, industry and economy have evolved largely in a complementary way among our two societies,and the relationship has been one of mutual benefit. As economies around the world struggle to recover from the financial crisis, both our economies face internal challenges of creating new jobs and stimulating growth. Externally, we face a situation where the global axis of economic growth is shifting toward emerging powers, and we need to establish balanced economic relations where growth that is dependent on links with the emerging powers is balanced by adequate management of the risks. For example, in regards to our government’s signing ECFA, the trade agreement with China, many people in Taiwan have expressed concern that rapid integration without adequate global diversification would deepen Taiwan’s dependence on China. Therefore we seek to strengthen our economic links with other major partners, including Japan.
With Japan we already have a strong foundation, and we hope that Japan also understands that it is within our mutual interest to prevent the further marginalization of Taiwan, and to have Taiwan well integrated into the regional trade architecture that is being formed, whether it is an APEC-based free trade agreement or the TPP.
4. Other travel and interaction
The fourth element, in areas of travel and other interaction between Taiwan and Japan, the visa-free policy that was implemented a few years ago has brought our people closer together by making travel and engagement much more convenient. I think many Japanese visitors to Taiwan will realize that there is no other place in the world where Japanese soft power is so evident: in culture,sports, business practices, entertainment, food, technology, and so forth. Likewise, Taiwan also seeks to develop our global visibility through soft power and public diplomacy. The Taiwanese people are extremely diligent and creative, and when in government we will work to foster an environment where our films, music, culture, and products of invention can also be enjoyed by the Japanese people as much as possible.
Now, I wish to turn to cross-strait policy. Although I know it is much more appropriate to focus on Taiwan-Japan relations and our elections on this occasion, I know many of you would want to ask me about our approach toward China. So let me give you a brief introduction in the limited time we have.
The goal of managing relations with China is to maintain a peaceful and stable environment so that the Taiwanese people can have the opportunities to develop a prosperous economy, while preserving the hard-won political freedoms and way of living. Ultimately, we want to ensure that the right to determine Taiwan’s future rests in the hands of the people of Taiwan, and any change of the status quo must be agreed by the people of Taiwan through democratic means.
Our desire to maintain peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is not only a commitment to the Taiwanese people. It is also our responsibility to the region. We believe the most realistic way forward is to reach a strategic understanding that recognizes differences while also allows for the pursuit of common interests (和而不同、和而求同) .
We acknowledge that Beijing insists on the “one China principle” as its fundamental position toward Taiwan. However, Beijing must also understand the reality that the Taiwanese people, having gone through the historical processes of freeing themselves from foreign rule and seeking democratization, are opposed to a one-party system and committed to upholding their sovereignty. The distinct positions, however, should not prevent the two sides from reaching a mutually beneficial arrangement where we can also pursue common interests, mainly,common interests in peace and development.
The DPP, as Taiwan’s first major native political party, is committed to defending Taiwan’s hard-earned democratic system and political freedoms, as well as the right of the Taiwanese people to decide their future. Democracy is not only an ideology. It is a way of life, and a constitutional obligation. Any president of Taiwan is bound by this constitutional obligation. Thus I have proposed a consensus-building process that is inclusive and democratic, to forma stronger foundation for engaging with China. One must recognize that any precondition for dialogue across the Strait that is not transparent and not in line with the democratic consensus of the Taiwanese people, will not be sufficient to deal with the complexities of the relationship.
I also believe that an approach that is backed by a democratic consensus-building process, representing the mainstream views of the Taiwanese people, would be much more stable and consistent in the long term.
We are not naïve about the existing differences across the Strait. But I believe if, there is a will, there is a way, as long as both sides are sincere about building a peaceful and stable framework for interaction. The current cross-strait stalemate is a product of the evolution of history, but the future of the relationship does not have to be a zero-sum scenario. I am willing to work with the leaders of Beijing, to seek a mutually beneficial,wise, and responsible way to move forward in the common interest of peaceful development.
There is no doubt that the Chinese are watching our elections closely. In the past, attempts to intervene in our elections have backfired. Observers or interested parties must have confidence in Taiwan’s democracy, in the people’s decision. There are many factors that influence the outcome of an election, and measuring the outcome of Taiwan’s elections as an indicator of the success or failure of a single policy, on the part of China, runs into the danger of miscalculation. I urge the Chinese leadership to better understand what elections mean for the people of Taiwan, and exercise greater flexibility and caution that would enable positive engagement with whomever that is elected in Taiwan in the future.
In fact, domestic social and economic issues have been dominating the campaign this time. Like in Japan, public anxieties over the economy, jobs, income disparities, and social services require urgent attention. Also like Japan, the issue of nuclear safety and the future of our energy policy will also be significant in the upcoming public policy debates. On this matter, the DPP has announced our goal of phasing out nuclear energy by the year 2025. This would require a massive effort and commitment to create the infrastructure for alternative and renewable energy sources. I believe this is an important area where our two countries can engage, jointly developing the technology and investment opportunities in the green energy sector.
These public policy issues will continue to be highlighted in the coming months, throughout the election. Our goal is to convince the Taiwanese people that the DPP is more progressive and forward-looking in our policies; that we are more accountable and responsive to the needs of the people; and that we are more competent and able to govern.
Over the years,the DPP has matured along with our democracy. Our eight years of experience in government, and the three years of reflection and hard work since 2008, have prepared us for the opportunity to come back to government again. It has not been easy to rebuild the trust of the people, but step by step we have done so.
Polls indicate that we are now neck-in-neck with the governing party, so the outcome is expected to be a very close race. But some things are for sure: Our people’s faith in the democratic system remains very strong; DPP’s supporters are both passionate and pragmatic; and our campaign team is unified and diligent. I am therefore confident that in just over three months, by March 2012, Taiwan will produce its first woman president. My victory will be a demonstration of the progressiveness and openness of Taiwan’s society, and we will cherish the people’s support and confidence by exercising responsible leadership and accountable government.
Thank you, I look forward to any questions or comments you may have.