President Tsai calls for "peaceful coexistence"
President Tsai Ing-wen expressed a desire for "peaceful coexistence" with Beijing, even as she emphasised her administration's achievements and highlighted a call for dialogue between Taiwan and China. In her final National Day Speech, Tsai also highlighted successes such as legalizing gay marriage and maintaining economic growth during the pandemic.
A cross-strait expert believes the speech was meant to convey goodwill and the hope for dialogue with Beijing. However, he also expressed doubts about Beijing's intent or ability to reciprocate.
Aside from that, the address underlined Taiwan's increased global presence, citing the recent US-Taiwan trade agreement and strong ties with Japan. Notwithstanding her international accomplishments, Tsai faces domestic challenges including high housing costs and income inequality.
In his speech at the ceremony, Legislative Yuan President (or speaker) You Si-kun underscored the importance of combat readiness to deter a potential war and safeguard Taiwan's democracy. Speaking during the ceremony, You said Taiwan needs to ready itself for possible war given the growing threat from China. He said safeguarding Taiwan is not only a mission of its people, but the common desire of all democratic nations, and that the will of Taiwan's people is the country's best defence. You also praised Taiwanese people's resilience in helping the country break out from the rigid Covid-19 restrictions over the past three years.
Meanwhile, the opposition KMT slammed the performance of President Tsai Ing-wen's seven-year tenure, saying her administration has failed in both cross-strait relations and domestic and foreign policies.
The KMT argued that Tsai's “anti-China policy has led Taiwan into dangerous territory”, making radical political slogans like “rejecting China, defending Taiwan” the cause of a 20-year low point in cross-strait ties.
The KMT highlights that while President Tsai often speaks of protecting the Taiwanese people and sovereignty, she has failed to address incidents such as missiles flying over Taiwan's airspace last year. It says the DPP government has hindered cross-strait peace and regional stability, acting as an obstacle and troublemaker rather than the contributor they claim to be.
The Tsai Administration has also lost nine countries that had diplomatic relations with Taiwan and has been blocked by international organisations such as the World Health Assembly, a gathering that Taiwan had been able to attend as an observer previously.
The KMT has also listed the chaotic Covid-19 responses, doubts about the locally-made submarine, and shortage of energy supplies, among others, as the evidence that Tsai performed poorly during her tenure. Tsai will leave office in May, next year.