President Lee Teng-hui at Congressional reception
At a Congressional reception in his honor, held in the US Capitol Building on Wednesday, October 19, 2005, former Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui made the following remarks:
Joining Hands for Freedom and Peace
Honorable Senators, Honorable Congressmen and Congresswomen, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Good Afternoon! Last month, two major hurricanes swept through your Southern Gulf States, causing serious damage to many areas. I would like to express my deep regret to the American people for their sufferings. I sincerely hope that the areas struck will be quickly rebuilt and the victims can soon regain normality in their lives.
It is my great pleasure to have this opportunity to visit my old friends in Capitol Hill, bringing with me the greetings and good wishes of the Taiwan people.
On this trip I entered your country through Alaska and made a stop in New York before coming to D.C., exchanging views with many friends along the way. It is evident that Taiwan and the United States pursue common ideals of freedom and democracy. We also share a common belief, which is the need to safeguard global and regional peace and security.
Although Taiwan and the United States of America do not have formal diplomatic relations with each other, nevertheless, Taiwan has always been a firm partner of the United States and does its best to maintain our mutual interests. Today, we are still thankful for the achievements of U.S. - Taiwan relations and greatly treasure the friendship between us.
Being a democratic society, there most certainly will be different opinions in Taiwan. However, like any young democracy, Taiwan still needs more extensive reforms to deepen and consolidate its democratic system. We in Taiwan shall continue to spare no efforts to complete our democratization process. In the course of strengthening democracy on Taiwan, we hope that our American friends will understand and accordingly support the Taiwan people’s desire to be free and to choose our own future.
Based on our mutual interests and in consideration of the entire Asia-Pacific region, we certainly will continue to do our utmost to stabilize cross strait relations. However, China’s rise in recent years has brought new unstable factors to cross strait relations. Many people have noticed China’s rise in economic terms, ignoring that China remains a communist dictatorship and is expanding its military might.
I personally lived through the misery of World War II and witnessed the rise and fall of Japanese militarism. Through this experience, I deeply understand the importance of democratization for the development of a country, or even, the entire Asia Pacific region.
Without democracy, there is always the danger of a large country spreading its power outwards and becoming a threat to world peace. Knowing this history, we find China’s economic rise and military expansion even more worrisome. Therefore, China’s democratization is a necessary factor to preventing conflict in Asia.
America’s leadership is indispensable to maintaining Asian regional peace, and Taiwan keenly supports the United States continuing to play this important role. Of course, the support and cooperation of other democratic countries are also necessary.
There are many new issues in the world that require such cooperation of the United States and other democratic countries to resolve effectively. Let Taiwan join hands with the United States to make greater contributions to achieving freedom, peace and stability of our global village. Thank you all.