The 104th Double Tenth celebration reception hosted by Ambassador and Mrs. Ting Joseph Shih of the Taipei Mission in Seoul at the Lotte Hotel on Oct. 7, 2015, was a sheer reminder of how Korea was reborn after the 36 years of ordeal and exploitation by the Japanese Empire for the 36 years of colonial rule until Aug. 15, 1945. The late Generalissimo Chiang Kei-shek strongly insisted that Korea must be from Japan and given independence.
Here are the remarks by Ambassador Shih:
“In 1938, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek proclaimed that ‘the independence and freedom of the brethren in Korea and Taiwan’ must be restored. By 1943, there were signs pointing to an Allied victory in World War II. At the Cairo Conference on November 23 of that year, the Generalissimo insisted that Korea should become free and independent once Japan was defeated. He persuaded US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to support his proposition, which also received approval from Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. A statement was officially included in the Cairo Declaration asserting that the ‘three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.’ This provided the basis for Korean independence following the conclusion of World War II.” (See excerpts from Ambassador Shih’s speech at the end of this Article.)
An estimated 800 distinguished from all walks of life as well as the Taiwanese and international communities attended the reception, who included Ambassadors Raul Silvero Silvagni of Paraguay, Ruben Arosemena of Panama, Han Chul-soo of Korea to Taiwan, Michel Idiaquez Baradat of Honduras, Gustavo Adolfo Lopez Calder?n of Guatemala and Ting Joseph Shih of Taipei Mission; Chairman Kyoung-tae Cho of Korea-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Association; Rep. Yoon Seung-hee; former Agriculture-Forestry Minister Kim Young-jin; Chairman Baek Yong-ki of Geobong (phonetic) Group (chairman of Seoul-Taipei Club), former Chairman Cho Jin-hyung of Korea-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Association; and newly appointed Chairman Dam So-yeong (phonetic) of Chinese Residents Association in Korea.
There were performances presented by a traditional Chinese lion dance troupe and an elementary school children’s choir. There also were large mascot dolls of obvious generals of ancient China.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Shih:
The Republic of China came into being 104 years ago on October 10. The Republic of China has achieved many milestones since its founding. Recently, the Freedom in the World 2014 report published by US-based Freedom House listed Taiwan as a “free” country for the 15th straight year. Taiwan enjoyed an economic growth rate of 3.37 percent in the first quarter of this year. It is the world’s 19th largest trading nation and 25th largest economy. According to the International Monetary Fund, in 2014 Taiwan’s per capita gross domestic product, adjusted for purchasing power parity, was 45,853 US dollars, ranking it 19th of 187 countries.
Cairo Declaration as basis for Korean independence
This year marks the 70th anniversary of ROC victory in the War of Resistance against Japan, as well as the 70th anniversary of the end of Japanese rule over Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula. This important part of history highlights the longstanding friendship between the Republic of China and the Republic of Korea.
In 1938, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek proclaimed that “the independence and freedom of the brethren in Korea and Taiwan” must be restored. By 1943, there were signs pointing to an Allied victory in World War II. At the Cairo Conference on November 23 of that year, the Generalissimo insisted that Korea should become free and independent once Japan was defeated. He persuaded US President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill to support his proposition, which also received approval from Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin. A statement was officially included in the Cairo Declaration asserting that the “three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.” This provided the basis for Korean independence following the conclusion of World War II.
The Cairo Declaration ended 50 years of Japanese domination and opened a new era in East Asia in the post-war period. It laid down the basic principles for the recovery of ROC territory and the independence of Korea, underscoring its significance in history and international law.
Growing Taiwan-Korea relations
Substantive relations between Taiwan and Korea have grown steadily in recent years. Bilateral trade exceeded 30 billion US dollars in 2014, and we are each other’s sixth largest trading partner. There is ample room for our industries to develop a more complementary and beneficial relationship. In terms of collaborative and departmentalized global value chains, the past two years have seen closer cooperation between our countries. Major Taiwanese companies have invested in Korea, including Yuanta Financial Holdings in Tongyang Securities, Hon Hai Precision Industry in SK C&C, and Fubon Financial Holdings in Hyundai Life Insurance.
In addition, Evergreen Marine and Yang Ming Marine Transport purchased a total of 30 container ships from Samsung and Hyundai heavy industries. These investments and purchases totaled approximately 3.8 billion US dollars. The robust economic and trade ties between our countries are all the more remarkable at a time when the world economy is facing an uncertain future.
In terms of cultural and educational exchanges, Taiwan participated in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and 2015 Gwangju World University Games. We appreciate the generous assistance our delegations received from Korea on both occasions. We hope that you will share your experience with us as we prepare for the 2017 World University Games to be held in Taipei in 2017 and the East Asian Youth Games in Taichung in 2018.
Last year, tourism exchanges between Taiwan and Korea topped the one million mark for the first time, reaching 1.18 million people, or 2 times more than in 2010. This figure included 660,000 Taiwanese visitors to Korea and 520,000 Korean visitors to Taiwan. While Taiwan is now the third largest source of tourists to the ROK, visitor arrivals from Korea recorded the strongest growth among inbound tourist groups to Taiwan since 2014. In the first six months of this year, Korean visitors to Taiwan registered a year-on-year increase of 23 percent, the highest among all nations.
Bilateral aviation consultations held this past April concluded that the number of weekly flights between our countries would be increased from 137 to 162, and a new route would be established between Kaohsiung and Gimpo. Korean Representative to Taiwan Cho Baek-sang and I signed this new aviation agreement, on behalf of our respective governments, on September 17, affording greater convenience to travelers from each side.
Since 2008, we have concluded a number of important agreements and MOUs, covering electronic certificates of origin, aviation safety, youth working holidays, local airports and tourism, as well as cooperation in telecommunications, meteorology, and seismology. MOUs on patent review and exchange of intellectual property information were also signed this year.
During meetings with Cho Kyoung-Tae of the Korea-Taiwan Parliamentarian Friendship Association and Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok earlier in the year, President Ma Ying-jeou expressed the hope that bilateral agreements on investment protection and avoidance of double taxation, already under negotiation, could be concluded at an early date. This would pave the way for an economic cooperation agreement facilitating advancement in trade and investment relations.
Commitment to stability in the Taiwan Strait and the Asia-Pacific
For a long time, the Taiwan Strait was a potential flashpoint. Since President Ma took office in May 2008, he has maintained the cross-strait status quo of no unification, no independence, and no use of force under the framework of the ROC Constitution and the 1992 Consensus on one China, respective interpretations.
To date, the two sides have concluded 23 agreements. More than 14 million mainland Chinese have visited Taiwan, including nearly 4 million last year alone. According to mainland statistics, cross-strait trade in the first half of this year totaled 198 billion US dollars. Weekly direct flights across the strait have increased to 890, connecting Taiwan to 61 cities in mainland China. Approximately 32,000 mainland students are now studying in Taiwan. Cross-strait relations are at their most stable and peaceful in 66 years, creating peace dividends and winning worldwide affirmation.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has commented on cross-strait relations in a very positive perspective, saying, the benefits that stable cross-strait ties have brought to both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the United States, and the region have been enormous.
Three years ago, Japan’s “nationalization” of the Diaoyutai Islands led to escalating tension in the East China Sea. In an effort to resolve disputes and promote regional stability, President Ma proposed the East China Sea Peace Initiative, based on the concept that sovereignty cannot be divided but resources can be shared. Eight months later, in April 2013, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement, proving that disputes could be pragmatically resolved under the East China Sea Peace Initiative.
In the meantime, the South China Sea has also become a focus of international attention. Although from the perspectives of history, geography, and international law, the Nansha (Spratly), Shisha (Paracel), Chungsha (Macclesfield Bank), and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory and waters, and the ROC indisputably enjoys all rights over them in accordance with international law, on May 26 of this year, President Ma proposed the South China Sea Peace Initiative. He urged all concerned parties to exercise restraint, refrain from taking any unilateral measures that would increase tension in the region, observe the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, settle disputes peacefully, and jointly guarantee freedom and security of navigation and overflight.
As geographical neighbors in East Asia, Taiwan and Korea face common security issues. We share a close, mutually influential relationship. President Park Geun-hye’s Northeast Asia Peace and Cooperation Initiative and proposal for a Trust-Building Process on the Korean Peninsula are similar in concept and spirit to Taiwan’s East and South China Sea Peace Initiatives. I hope that we can work together with our Korean friends to advance peace, stability, and development in the Asia-Pacific region.
This year we celebrate not only the 104th birthday of the Republic of China, but also the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, ROC victory in the War of Resistance against Japan, the liberation of the Korean Peninsula, and the retrocession of Taiwan. The Republic of Korea and Taiwan share the values of democracy, freedom, rule of law, human rights, and a free market, serving as models for development. Our governments should forge ahead together on this journey of peace and prosperity, building on our longstanding friendship and shared values to boost bilateral relations. May our achievements become a permanent part of history and may the Asia-Pacific region enjoy continued peace and stability.
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