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President Tsai delivers New Year’s talk for 2019

 

President Tsai delivers New Year’s talk for 2019

 

On 1 January, President Tsai Ing-wen delivered a New Year’s address laying out the government’s achievements in 2018, goals for 2019, challenges in the international environment and “four musts” for cross-strait relations. The President began by highlighting how the government’s policies in 2018 have laid a good foundation for 2019, citing the increase in the minimum wage to NT$23,100 and hourly rate for part-time workers to NT$150. She also announced four major tax deductions will take effect in May 2019, as well as exemption from personal income tax for those with a monthly salary lower than NT$30,000. President Tsai stated that in addition to increasing wages and cutting taxes, the government will also take greater steps to alleviate the public’s financial burdens by making low-income citizens a priority.

 

The President emphasised the challenges Taiwan faces in the current international situation, including the impact of the US-China trade war on the country’s overall economy, industrial development and financial stability. President Tsai stated “as a national leader, my responsibility is to find space for Taiwan to survive and develop in a highly uncertain international environment,” adding that in 2019 this responsibility will be even greater. She highlighted how the government has prepared over the past two years by spurring Taiwan’s industrial transformation under the “5 + 2 industrial innovation” programme, expanding domestic demand by supporting public infrastructure in the “forward-looking infrastructure development” programme and diversifying the country’s global footprint through the New Southbound Policy.

 

Unveiling the government’s “four musts” for cross-strait relations, President Tsai called on China to face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), respect the commitment of Taiwan’s 23 million citizens to freedom and democracy, handle cross-strait differences peacefully and on the basis of equality as well as engage in negotiations with the government or government-authorised agencies. The President made clear that before the two sides can establish a sustainable relationship, all threats and risks to Taiwan’s national security must be faced. She added that China’s attempts to take advantage of Taiwan’s democratic system to interfere in its internal politics and social development have now become the country’s greatest challenge. President Tsai concluded “this is a new year, a year to fight for our livelihoods, a year to protect our democracy, and a year to safeguard our sovereignty.”