ROC (Taiwan) Yearbook 2011 02special centenial


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From the last edition of the ROC (Taiwan) Yearbook that used to be published by the disbanded Government Information Office (GIO).

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ROC (Taiwan) Yearbook 2011 02special centenial

  1. 1. Celebrating a Momentous 1st Century Creating a Resplendent 2nd Century T he year 2011 marks the centen- nial of Asia’s first republic, the Special Feature Republic of China. At 100, the nation celebrates and takes pride in having created a prosperous and robust democracy, founded on a lively civil soci- ety determined to keep moving forward. Historical Roots On the eve of the Republic’s birth, imperial Qing-dynasty China was plagued by internal strife and abuse at the hands of imperialist powers, which carved it into spheres of influence and extorted unequal treaties from it. The great mass of China’s people, meanwhile, led a marginal exis- tence, with little opportunity for personal advancement and few political rights or legally guaranteed civil liberties. Eager to rectify these injustices, revo- lutionaries launched a series of insurrections aimed at toppling the Qing government and establishing a modern democracy. Finally, an uprising that broke out on October 10, IV3-建國百年專文OK (indexed).indd 4 2011/10/21 1:29:01 AM
  2. 2. 1911 in the city of Wuhan in Hubei Province spread across the country, resulting in the establishment of the Republic of China in Nanjing on January 1, 1912 and the abdication of the last Qing emperor in February. Since then, the nation has honored the courage and ideals of its founders and martyrs by celebrating its national day on October 10, the date of the Wuhan Uprising. Prominent among the founders was Sun Yat-sen, a physician who had worked tirelessly to garner support for the establishment of the Republic, and who became its first, provisional president. As conveyed most forcefully in his political discourse, known as the Three Principles of the People and later enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of China, their common goal was to build a strong and prosperous society founded on values of social justice and human rights, in which all peo- ple have the ability—and responsibility—to join in shaping their collec- tive destiny. A Century of Stirring Achievements Thanks to the devotion of so many of its people to the common well-being, visitors to today’s ROC will discover that Sun’s dream has come true in Taiwan. The road has been arduous, however. In its early years the national government had to contend against warlords who at- tempted to establish their own little kingdoms. And the lively national development that followed success in that effort was short-circuited by continuing foreign interference as well as by civil war. V3-建國百年專文OK (indexed).indd 5 2011/10/21 1:29:05 AM
  3. 3. Perseverance under such daunting conditions nevertheless met with notable successes. In 1945, the ROC, as one of the major Allied Powers, defeated Japan’s empire-building ambitions, and Taiwan, which Japan had taken from imperial China as a victory prize at the end of the First Sino- Japanese War (1894-1895), was restored to the ROC. It abrogated the un- equal treaties with which it had been saddled, became a founding member of the United Nations and took a hand in drafting the Universal Declara- tion of Human Rights. With the ascendance of communism on the mainland, however, the ROC government was forced to relocate to Taiwan in 1949, where it re- established its capital in Taipei. Prosperity for All In Taiwan, the ROC government instituted visionary policies that catalyzed a dazzling economic miracle. Thanks in part to what may be described as the most successful land reform program in history, Taiwan’s relatively impoverished agrarian economy was transformed into a highly prosperous one, based on increasingly sophisticated, knowledge-based manufacturing and service industries. As of mid-2010, the ROC ran ked as the world’s 16th-largest merchandise-exporting nation, 25th-largest economy and fourth-largest holder of foreign exchange reserves. Its nominal GDP per capita in 2010 stood at about US$18,600 (equivalent to more than US$34,700 in terms of purchasing power parity as calculated by the International Monetary Fund). And whereas previously, the ROC was a beneficiary of foreign aid, it has become one of the world’s major humanitarian benefactors. Democracy and Human Dignity Forceful movement toward full democratization and advancement of human rights began in the late 1970s and swiftly transformed Taiwan into one of the world’s most progressive societies. The fruits of democratic re- form are demonstrated by its numerous achievements in creating a more just, equitable society through the collaborative efforts of all sectors of soci- ety. These include, for example, amendments to the Constitution instituting the direct election of the nation’s president and parliamentarians by ROC VI3-建國百年專文OK (indexed).indd 6 2011/10/21 1:29:05 AM
  4. 4. citizens with residency in Taiwan, and the enactment and enforcement of countless laws and regulations to ensure all manner of human rights with regard to due process of law, gender equality, privacy of personal informa- tion, etc. Further accomplishments include: •• measures to promote access to all levels of education regardless of economic ability; •• the establishment of a world-class universal health care system; •• the creation of a nationwide individual retirement account (IRA) sys- tem, obliging employers to make regular payments into their employ- ees’ IRAs, regardless of the number of times they change jobs; •• the provision of universal unemployment compensation; and •• programs to nurture the distinctive cultural and linguistic heritages of Taiwan’s kaleidoscope of ethnic groups. Consequently, the superiority of its political system and social institu- tions has been affirmed worldwide. U.S.-based Freedom House’s annual Freedom in the World survey, for example, has for many years ranked the ROC among the world’s freest nations. Ongoing Developments Since coming to office in May 2008, the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has spearheaded a wide array of initiatives to enable the Re- public to continue advancing on all fronts. Demonstrating the ROC’s resolve to maintain momentum in the work of fostering democracy and protecting human rights, at the Presi- dent’s urging, on March 31, 2009 the Legislative Yuan ratified the U.N. International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the U.N. Interna- tional Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. That same day, it passed legislation requiring that all ROC laws be in conformance with these conventions. President Ma signed the instruments of ratification of the covenants in May 2009. Further, to ensure that steady progress is made in implement- ing them, on December 10, 2010—International Human Rights Day—he established the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee, with Vice President Vincent C. Siew serving as its convener. VII3-建國百年專文OK (indexed).indd 7 2011/10/21 1:29:05 AM
  5. 5. In addition, the government has launched programs and enacted legisla- tion to foster cutting-edge and emerging industries that can uplift the econ- omy to a new plateau, boost government effectiveness, fight corruption, and promote the welfare of disadvantaged groups. These include, for example: •• the Industrial Innovation Act; •• amendments to the People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act, the Children and Youth Welfare Act and the Public Assistance Act; •• amendments to the Labor Union Act and the Settlement of Labor- Management Disputes Act; •• launching of the National Pension system and the Labor Insurance Annuity system; •• the Fair and Speedy Criminal Trials Act; •• the Civil Servant Administrative Neutrality Act, aimed at preventing political interference in government administration and preventing public servants from abusing their positions of authority; •• amendments to the Local Government Act, which serve as a basis for mergers of local governments aimed at providing better service; and •• a set of new laws and amendments aimed at streamlining the central government—reducing the number of Cabinet-level organizations from 37 to 29 starting in 2012—while increasing its effectiveness. These and countless other endeavors are reflected in a variety of inter- national surveys. In its 2011 World Competitiveness Yearbook, for example, the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development ranked the ROC as the sixth-most competitive economy among the 59 lead- ing nations surveyed—up 2 notches from the previous year. Making the Taiwan Strait a Sea of Tranquility Under the Ma administration, the ROC has also striven to turn a new page in the previously antagonistic relationship between Taiwan and mainland China by resuming institutionalized negotiations between the two sides. As of December 2010, the ROC’s Straits Exchange Foundation had negotiated 15 groundbreaking accords with its mainland counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits. These have great- ly improved relations in areas such as transportation and shipping, crime- fighting, movements of people and economic interchange. VIII3-建國百年專文OK (indexed).indd 8 2011/10/21 1:29:06 AM
  6. 6. The crowning achievement of such negotiations is the conclusion of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement in June 2010, which came into force in September of that year. The agreement is designed to facilitate institutionalization and liberalization of trade rela- tions across the Taiwan Strait as well as to help expand Taiwan’s access to international markets. World leaders have expressed appreciation for the trend toward enhanced regional stability that has resulted from this new spirit of cooperation. In February 2009, for example, the European Parliament passed a resolution affirming that it “welcomes the significant reduc- tion of tension in the Taiwan Straits area and the ongoing dialogue between Beijing and Taipei...” And the U.S.-China Joint Statement released January 19, 2011 noted that “The United States applauded the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement … and welcomed the new lines of communications” developing between Taiwan and main- land China. Creating a Resplendent 2nd Century In his 2011 New Year’s Day message to the nation, President Ma underlined the imperative to continue working to “forge a just and fair society where there is equal opportunity for development, the judiciary is impartial and clean, the gap between rich and poor is reduced, and hu- man rights are safeguarded.” Additionally, he stressed that in the coming century the ROC must continue developing as a living embodiment of all that is excellent in Chinese culture as well as the best of Western culture, inspired by an expansive oceanic spirit to match Taiwan’s oceanic geog- raphy. It must strive to be a paragon of democracy, serving in particular as an inspiration to the hundreds of millions of peoples in the worldwide Chinese cultural sphere. And it must harness its people’s talents to be- come a global force for innovation and be a nation admired for its dedica- tion to the advancement of well-being for all. Blessed with an open-hearted, cosmopolitan people enjoying strong social networks bridging cultures and borders, the nation is set to achieve these goals and create a resplendent second century. IX3-建國百年專文OK (indexed).indd 9 2011/10/21 1:29:06 AM