Videotaped Address for the
2001 Prize for Freedom Ceremony
Strasbourg, France

Chen Shui-bian
Republic of China
November 15, 2001

In a videotaped address for the 2001 Prize for Freedom ceremony held by Liberal International, President Chen Shui-bian extended his thanks to Liberal International and emphasized that the prize is presented not only to him, but also to the 23 million people on Taiwan, who love peace, advocate freedom, and value human rights.

The following is the full text of President Chen's speech:

  First, I would like to thank Liberal International for awarding me the 2001 Prize for Freedom. I feel greatly honored. I would also like to take this opportunity to emphasize that this prize is presented not only to me, but also to the 23 million people on Taiwan, who love peace, advocate freedom, and value human rights.

This prize is always issued to those who have fought for democracy, contributed to human rights, and promoted freedom around the world. For instance, Czech President Vaclav Havel, who has dedicated his life to human rights and the development of freedom; former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, who ended Marcos' autocratic regime; and Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been under house arrest for fighting for democracy in Burma.

Since its inception, Liberal International has remained firmly committed to its sacred mission of safeguarding democracy, human rights, social fairness, tolerance, equality, free trade, and global solidarity. Today, its delegates from 67 countries continue to dedicate their endeavors to freedom and democracy on the six continents of the world.

For several centuries, Taiwan experienced external aggression, colonial rule, and authoritarian government. In order to pursue the universal values of freedom, democracy, and human rights, the determined people of Taiwan have felt duty-bound to sacrifice their lives, rise in resistance, and write history with their tears and blood.

On the threshold of the 21st century and under military intimidation by the PRC, the 23 million wonderful people of Taiwan have healed the wounds of history with unfaltering love and triumphed over fear with resolute confidence. With their sacred votes, they made an historic change of governing parties in March 2000, achieving democratic progress worthy of our pride and affording the best testimony for democratic values.

As President of the Republic of China, I have worked constantly to advance the cause of democracy and enhance the people's welfare. Since its inauguration, the new administration has formed a human rights advisory committee and will establish a National Human Rights Commission to improve Taiwan's human rights protection. I am well aware that political democracy and economic globalization are the main trends of the 21st century. Freedom, democracy, and human rights are universal values that cannot be extinguished. The history of humankind is the history of a struggle for freedom that can be eulogized and elegized.

All people are born free. People safeguard freedom even at the cost of their lives. I have worked for Taiwan's democracy and freedom as a member of the opposition and paid a price for it. As the president of the Republic of China today, I am deeply honored that the ROC can now advocate and practice this universal value.

I earnestly hope that Taiwan's freedom and democratic development can inspire the peaceful development of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, thus allowing people on both sides to enjoy a life of mutual benefit, prosperity, and progress under a free market economy. Consistent with such an ideal, I have constantly expressed my goodwill to Beijing after I was inaugurated President of the ROC.

Under the principles of goodwill peace, active cooperation, and lasting peace, I am dedicated to pursuing the normalization of relations between the two sides. In addition, under the principle of safeguarding democracy, equality, and peace, I will continue my efforts to maintain peace in the Taiwan Strait, and I look forward to a new framework for lasting peace and political integration of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

In closing, I would like to thank Liberal International for granting this honor. I am very sorry that I was not able to personally accept the award on behalf of the people of Taiwan and had to send my wife Wu Shu-chen instead.

I am supremely confident that Taiwan will contribute to the stability and prosperity of the international community, especially at the time when the world is fighting terrorism and defending freedom. I would like to take this opportunity to pay the highest tribute to those who have contributed to the fight for freedom, democracy, justice, and human rights.

Thank you very much.

German / English / Chinese