Your Excellency Fidel V. Ramos, Former President of the Republic of the Philippines,
HonourableAngelito“Lito”Banayo, Chairman of MECO
Directors of MECO,
HonourableSecretaries & Undersecretaries of Various Departments,
Honourable Senators and Congressmen,
Members of Diplomatic Corps and Consular Corps,
Officials of the Philippine Government,
Representatives of various Chambers of Commerce,
Leaders of the Filipino-Chinese Community,
Leaders of Taiwanese Community,
Friends from the media,
Friends of the academia,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Magandang Gabi! Mabuhay! (Welcome!)
It is a great pleasure and honour for me and my wife, Sophia, to welcome you and thank you very much indeed for coming to join us tonight to celebrate the 105th National Day of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Triumph of democracy
From a historical perspective, tonight’s celebration also marks a defining moment in our history. On January 16th this year, in a crucial general election, the Taiwanese people elected the first female president namely, Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, the leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), as our new President . President Tsai’s inauguration on May 20thheralded the third peaceful transfer of power since the first direct presidential election in 1996. Through regular free and fair election and the upholding of the values of democracy and freedom, the ROC (Taiwan)has realized its goal of becoming a free and democratic country.
Despite various challenges and external threats, tide of democracy keeps on surging and staunchly moving forward on Taiwan. Democracy in Taiwan is a way of no return. Taiwan’s achievements of democracy and freedom over the past decades have been extraordinary and Taiwan’s democracy deserves international support and sympathy. In line with this, tonight we are gathered here, like the US late President Ronald Reagan once said, to “celebrate the triumph of Democracy”.
The ROC Government’s Major Policies
In her inaugural speech delivered on May 20th this year, President Tsai Ing-wen outlined her vision and the government’s major policies, highlighting her staunch commitment to overcoming domestic challenges and transforming Taiwan’s economic structure; strengthening the social safety net; realizing social fairness and justice; ensuring peaceful and stable development in the region and properly managing cross-strait relations; and contributing towards diplomatic and global issues. In the future, we will strive to proceed with reform in Taiwan and further enhance freedom, democracy, prosperity and justice.
President Tsai’s economic policy
With a focus on innovation, employment, and equitable distribution, our government will actively promote five major innovative industries – an Asian silicon valley, smart machinery, green energy, biomedicine, and national defense ––while developing new agriculture as well as a circular economy. These will drive Taiwan’s next wave of industrial growth and help realize the vision of a digital nation, smart island, high-value services sector, and nuclear-free homeland, as well as a country marked by energy conservation and carbon emissions reduction.
Promoting the New Southbound Policy and enhancing Taiwan’s role in and connections with the Asia-Pacific region
The Asia-Pacific region accounts for 30 percent of the world’s area and 60 percent of the world’s population, and enjoys growing influence in global political and economic development. However, Taiwan has long neglected and overlooked this region. To diversify and balance our regional ties, President Tsai has decided to launch the“New Southbound Policy” since September 5th2016. Our government will focus on forging long-term comprehensive, multi-faceted, two-way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial relations with 18 countries –– including members of ASEAN, South Asian countries, New Zealand, and Australia –– in the areas of economic and trade cooperation, personnel exchanges, resource sharing, and regional linkages. We aim to forge a sense of economic community with these nations to help Taiwan identify new directions and build new momentum for its economic development.
Striving to safeguard the status quo of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait while respecting public opinion and democratic principles
As Taiwan is a democratic society and 88.9 percent of Taiwanese people are opposed to the PRC’s unilateral unification (so-called “One China”) and support maintaining the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, the Government will adhere to public opinion and democratic principles, respect historical facts and the existing political foundation, and abide by the ROC Constitution, the Act Governing Relations between the peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, as well as other related laws and regulations. While we are striving to maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and the region, we hereby urge Beijing to respect the aspirations of the Taiwanese people and avoid unilaterally pressuring and forcing the Taiwan Government to kowtowand acknowledge the PRC as the sole legitimate Government of whole China (so called “One China Policy”), and treatthe ROC (Taiwan) as a part of the PRC. Beijing’s threat, assertiveness and bully have become the origin and source of regional tension.
Achievements of Taiwan
In the Freedom in the World 2016 report published by US-based Freedom House, Taiwan was ranked second in Asia – behind Japan – in terms of civil liberties. It was ranked first in Asia and no. 51 in the world in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters without Borders.
2. Rule of law:
Transparency International placed Taiwan seventh in the Asia-Pacific region in its 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index.
3. Economic development:
In 2015, Taiwan was the 27th – largest economy in the world, ranking 18th in imports, 17th in exports, and 5thin foreign exchanges reserves, which totaled US$426 billion at the 2015 year-end.
Taiwan ranks as 15thmost competitive economy among the 140 economies in the world and 4th in Asia behind Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong – in the Global Competitiveness Report 2015-2016 published by the World Economic Forum.
Easy to do business
Taiwan ranks 11th out of 189 world economies surveyed for ease of doing business in the Doing Business 2016 report issued by the World Bank.
Taiwan ranks4th out of 186 economies surveyed in the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom released by the US-based Heritage Foundation.
Good Investment environment
Taiwan ranks3rd out of 50 countries surveyed – behind Singapore and Switzerland – in terms of its overall investment environment in the first quarter of 2016 by the US-based Business Environment Risk Intelligence.
In the OECD’s Better Life Index of 2016, Taiwan’s living conditions and quality of life,areranked 16th out of the 39 countries, which is higher than Japan (no. 24) and Korea (no.29).
The Philippines – ROC (Taiwan) bilateral relations
Taiwan and the Philippines have long-standing mutually-beneficial close relations. The bilateral cooperative ties are wide–ranging including many areas ranging from trade, investment, industry, technology and science, agricultural, fishery, labour tourism, aviation, shipping, energy, and even weather forecasting etc.
In terms of bilateral economic ties, the two countries are important trading partners to each other. In 2015, Taiwan was the Philippines’ 5th largest trading partner, 9th export market, and 4th import source of the Philippines.
In terms of investment, in 2015, the total recorded Taiwanese investments in the Philippinesjumped to P5.46 billion (about $121 million), an 83.4% increase–– making Taiwan the Philippines’ 3rd fastest growing investment source.
For Taiwan, the Philippines is the 2nd largest export partner of Taiwan among ASEAN countries amounting to $7.45 billion, and the 11th largest trading partner of Taiwan in the world, with bilateral trade amounting to $9.27 billion in 2015.
In terms of people-to-people exchanges, there are millions of Filipino people either transit, or passing through Taiwan each year. The partnership is also reflected in the presence of the 135,000 Filipinos who are currently working in Taiwan mainly in the ICT sector and optical products. Aside from the OFWs,there are approximately 8,000 young couples married each other.
In terms of tourism, visitor arrivals from Taiwan to the Philippines for 2015 reached 180,091, an increase of 34.82% from last year and making Taiwan the 6th top visitors’source for the Philippines. From January to June this year, Taiwan has already brought 111,184 visitors to the Philippines, an increase of 26.15% from last year. Among the top 12 source of visitors for the Philippines, Taiwan posted the 2nd highest growth of tourist arrivals.
Meanwhile, there are 139,214 Filipino visitors visiting Taiwan in 2015, an increase of 1.63%, while 80,714 Filipino visitors visiting Taiwan from January to June this year, an increase of 13.14%, compared to last year.The increase of Taiwanese visitors to the Philippines (over 24.3% in 2015 alone) is attributable to the two (2) significant recent developments:
(1.) Amendment of 1996 bilateral Air Service Agreement
The five-fold increase in air passenger seat capacity from previously 4, 800 seats per week up to 25, 000 seats per week in 2016 and further up to 30, 000 seats per week in 2017following the re-negotiation and amendment of our 1996 bilateral air traffic agreement.
► The successful re-negotiation and amendment of the 1996 air traffic agreement have opened the door for 255 flights per month and new routes between our two countries, not only between Manila and Taipei, Kaohsiung, but also directly to Philippine famous tourist destinations including Cebu, Boracay and Puerto Princesa.
(2.) The Relaxation of the Visa Application
Both countries have made tremendous efforts to relax and facilitate the bilateral visa arrangements and have implemented the Online Visa Application for E-Visa or the Online Application for the ROC (Taiwan) Travel Authorization Certificate.
The relaxation of visa have not only made the two countries more accessible for our two nations, but also facilitate travels, investments, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and Taiwan.
Promotion of Two-Way Tourism & Travels
► Asia-Pacific Cultural Day to be held during 5-6 November, 2016 at Taipei Main Station.
► Special Promotional Package to tour Taiwan’s cultural and historical heritages.
► A well-known Philippine Miss World finalist is scheduled to visit Taiwan.
► Philippine-Taiwan Educational Academic Networking,
Cooperation and Exchanges
The said networking platform has been established between the University of the Philippines System and Southern Taiwan Universities Alliance, and academic cooperation and educational exchanges between various Universities are gradually starting to happen and become frequent. This will surely enhance our mutual understanding and friendship between our young generations.
Future prospect and conclusion: Best timing for cooperation and partnership
In conclusion, I would like to point out that right now is the best and opportune timing to work together to enhance our bilateral relations. By broadening multifaceted cooperation, we will eventually create a mutually beneficial win-win situation.
I would like to borrow your former President Fidel V. Ramos’ views on the opportunities between us, as he mentioned that “the signing of an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between Taiwan and the Philippines will be beneficial to the Philippines!The coincidence–nay, convergence of new administrations in the Philippines and Taiwan in mid-2016 could not have come at a better time. Taiwan’s ‘New Southbound Policy’ of President Tsai Ing-wen and Philippines‘new more inclusive policies’ under President Rodrigo Duterte do complement each other synergistically, and may prove to be the “good fit” for which the two close neighbors have been searching”.
With your gracious support and goodwill, I am sure now is the best timing to nourish our friendship and further strengthen our robust relationship. With the backing of President Tsai’s “New Southbound Policy”, I am optimistic that our substantive bilateral relations will grow from strength to strength in the years to come.
Distinguished guests! Ladies and Gentlemen!
To conclude my remarks, may I wish each and every one of you good health, happiness and every success. Once again, thank you for joining us tonight. Have a wonderful evening! All the best!
Last but not least, may I now have the pleasure to invite all of you to join me in a toast to our friendship, and to the continuous progress and everlasting prosperity of our two countries!
Thank you !
Maraming Salamat po !