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2004-05-29 18:32:44

    Taipei, May 29 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian on Saturday urged all Cabinet members to keep four things in mind: cross-strait relations, World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations, a better economy and Taiwan as an ocean country.

    The president made the remarks in addressing all Cabinet members, who were led by Premier Yu Shyi-kun to Ilan, eastern Taiwan, for an orientation meeting after assuming or, in some cases, continuing in their posts since May 20.

    Chen told the Cabinet that the four issues are the greatest challenges faced by the nation and they form the basis of sustainable development for Taiwan.

    The president pointed out that with the many close exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, cross-strait relations are no longer a purely political issue, but have become a comprehensive challenge. Whether it is disease control, cracking down on crime, education rights for children of Taiwan business people operating on the mainland, veterans retiring to the mainland in their old age, or the registration and employment of mainland Chinese brides marrying Taiwanese residents, "every one of these is related to our every aspect of life," the president said.

    For this reason, President Chen said that every government agency, even local governments, should regularly review new issues arising from cross-strait interchanges so that current affairs can be taken into account of their day-to-day operations.

    Noting that Taiwan was finally admitted into the WTO as its 144th member in 2002 after years of efforts, he said that the WTO will surely surpass that of the United Nations in importance now that the Cold War has ended and the global economy has expanded rapidly.

    He said that if Taiwan can make good use of the opportunity and high profile offered by the WTO to take part in world affairs on an equal standing with other nations, it will have a major strategic significance to the nation's development.

    The president noted that the WTO has provided Taiwan with a bridge to access the world, and the WTO "has clearly defined our rights and obligations, but it also provides the chance to take part in its formulation of world trade regulations."

    As a member of the global village, Taiwan has the responsibility of fulfilling its obligations regarding international treaties, and it should also actively seek more favorable conditions for its trade development.

    Noting that during his presidential campaign, he advocated that his first four-year term had centered on reforms while the next four-years would be for the wellbeing of the nation, he said that an improved economy does not mean the accumulating of wealth alone, but also means the improvement of the quality of life, as well as the creation of fair opportunities for overall prosperity, and the narrowing of the gap between the poor and the rich.

    He said, "We must seriously address the issue of poverty within our society of wealth, " which he said had much to do with the unbalanced development of urban and rural areas, the graying of society, the unfavorable social and economic conditions of certain underprivileged people, and the decline of traditional family values. None of these together can be addressed properly by one government agency or the government alone.

    He also spoke about Taiwan as an ocean country, saying that although it is surrounded by water, "this does not limit us; rather, it offers an unlimited horizon." "We must define ourselves as the center of Asia and the Pacific and not as a margin of China," the president said, adding that "if Taiwan is to have sustainable development, it will have to face the ocean, and view the world as our stage." "We must systematically survey and research our marine ecology and water resources around Taiwan, upgrade foreign language skills of the public, actively encourage young people to travel overseas or devote themselves to overseas service, improve exit and entry controls, provide a more diverse and international living environment for foreigners who work or live a long time in Taiwan," he said. "We have to actively achieve the vision of Taiwan as an ocean country," the president said.

    He also said that he spoke of a "sustainable Taiwan" in his May 20 second inaugural address and around such a theme he had make a comprehensive description of the nation's progress of democratic development, ethnic and social unity and harmony, constitutional reforms, the improvement of national competitiveness, and the establishment of a cross-strait peace and stability framework.

    He expressed the hope that all Cabinet members would carefully read his speech, and read between the lines and understand its message and translating them into the focus of their day-to-day operations.

(By Lilian Wu)


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