Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address at a Mass Rally in Taipei

June 18, 1960

Mr. President, distinguished guests, and friends:

I address this gathering today fully aware of the honor you have bestowed on my Country and myself in inviting me to speak here. I bring to your Nation greetings from the American people.

We Americans are in a very real sense your close neighbors: we look out with you upon the same ocean--the Pacific. This largest of oceans has been narrowed by the marvels of modern communication and transportation. No longer is it a formidable barrier separating America from the Nations of the far East.

We in America have accepted this tremendously important fact of international life, and recognize its implications for the future of our country. Therefore, I come to you, as to the other countries of the Pacific which I am privileged to visit, as a friend and neighbor deeply concerned with your--and our common interests.

This concern has shaped my country's policies toward the nations of the Pacific. The realization that America's security and welfare are intimately bound up with their security and welfare has led us to foster the concept of collective defense; and to contribute money, materials and technical assistance to promote their economic stability and development.

But though the United States provides assistance to the nations of the Pacific Region, many of them recently emerged from Colonial status, we have not sought to impose upon them our own way of life or system of government. We respect their sovereignty as we do our own.

To do otherwise would be a betrayal of America's own traditions. Our purpose is to help protect the right of our neighbors of the Pacific to develop in accordance with their own National aspirations and their own traditions.

In this era of mass destruction weapons, the increasing intimacy in which the peoples of the world live makes resort to global war, even by the smallest of them, dangerous to the whole community of nations.

I come to you representing a country determined, despite all setbacks, to press on in search of effective means to outlaw war and to promote the rule of law among nations.

History has repeatedly shown that this high purpose is not served by yielding to threats or by weakening defenses against potential aggressors. Indeed such weakness would increase the danger of war.

You may be assured that our continuing search for peaceful solutions to outstanding international problems does not reflect the slightest lessening of our determination to stand with you, and with all our free neighbors of the Pacific, against aggression.

The United States does not of course recognize the claim of the warlike and tyrannical Communist regime in Peiping. In the United Nations we support the Republic of China, a founding member, as the only rightful representative of China in that organization.

The American people deeply admire your courage in striving so well to keep the cause of liberty alive here in Taiwan in the face of the menacing power of Communist Imperialism. Your accomplishments provide inspiration to us all.

The search for lasting peace comprehends much more than the erection of sure military defenses. Perhaps nothing offers greater hope to a war weary world than the new opportunities for a better life which have been opened up in the past few decades by the magnificent achievements of science and technology. If the peoples of the world can not only master the forces of nature but can find also the way to use them for peaceful ends, we are on the threshold of a new era.

One of the great peaceful battles for a better life--which the Republic of China is now in the midst of fighting here on Taiwan--is on the front of economic progress. for you, the past has been full of hardships. But for the people of this island each difficulty was a challenge to be mastered.

During the years of this progress, freedom has not been a free ingredient, like air or water. Indeed, freedom has been the costliest component of your daily lives. Even in sheer economic terms you have devoted a larger share of your incomes to keeping your independence than have most other peoples on the globe. To do 'this you have had to adopt progressive measures.

A great economic accomplishment of the past ten years was your program in land reform. Due to its fair and democratic conception and execution it has become a model for similar reforms in other lands. It dealt successfully with one of the fundamental problems the Chinese people have faced throughout history. Moreover, in it you achieved much more than a fair and equitable adjustment--you produced both social dynamism and economic growth.

That reform, founded on Sun Yat-Sen's three peoples principles and executed with due regard for law and for private property, stands in sharp contrast to the brutal regimentation of your countrymen on the mainland. There they are often herded into the soul-destroying labor brigades of the Commune System. But free China knows that a system in which the farmer owns the land he tills gives him the incentive to adopt advanced fertilization, irrigation and other farming techniques.

We are proud that we have been of some help technically, in carrying through your agricultural reform program. We too have learned much from our association in the Chinese-American joint commission on rural reconstruction. We have been able to use this experience to good advantage in helping other countries. In the industrial field your friends in the United States and all over the world have watched with satisfaction your growing productivity and diversification. You have demonstrated, under adverse conditions, the moral and physical strength, the imagination and the perseverance to achieve this near miracle. Now I learn that, not satisfied with the impressive rate of progress already attained, you are entering upon a new program for further speeding up your economic growth.

In today's world, where many new nations of Asia and Africa are seeking a path of economic development to satisfy the growing expectations of their people, free China provides a shining example. Thanks in large measure to the vigor and talents of its population and its leaders, it has advanced to the threshold of the kind of self-sustaining economic growth that has brought other free nations to wealth and power.

Free China thus has an opportunity, which is at the same time a responsibility, to demonstrate to less developed nations the way to economic growth in freedom. Confronted with the harsh example of the Communist way on the mainland, you here are in a position to show how a nation can achieve material strength and advance the well-being of its people without sacrificing its most valued traditions.

Your success in this field can sustain and guarantee your secure standing in the community of nations. And it will become, for your own fellow countrymen on the mainland, an ever more insistent refutation of the false Communist thesis that modern economic development can be purchased only at the price of freedom.

We in the United States have studied your plans for social and economic changes and do not underestimate the difficulties you will have to endure during a period of transition. Economic growth, especially accelerated growth, constantly calls for recurring revolutions in thinking, in the way we do things, indeed in every phase of our lives.

As you know, we intend to join hands with you in this great enterprise. By doing so we shall not lighten your load because you have already pledged yourselves to maximum effort, but our partnership should demonstrate how rapid progress can be achieved by the methods of free peoples freely joined in friendship for mutual benefit.

As representatives of the great and numerous Chinese Nation, heirs to one of the world's most ancient and honored cultures, you--the people of free China--can play a unique role in the future of mankind. By grasping the opportunities for the improvement of human welfare now made possible by the advancement of science and technology, you can blaze a trail of progress here on Taiwan that may ultimately shape the destiny of all your fellow countrymen, of nearly one-quarter of the human race. This is indeed a challenge of gigantic proportions.

In meeting that challenge, the United States--and all the free world-wishes you every success.

My friends, this morning I encountered an unforgettable experience. I met thousands of you people along the road from the airport and everywhere I encountered only friendliness, courteous greetings and a face lighted up with smiles. To each of you who lined that route, to each of you who today came out to do me the courtesy of listening to what I had to say, I give you my grateful thanks on behalf of my party, myself-indeed for the American people, whose concern for every one of you is deep and lasting. So from your President to the humblest citizen of the land, I say thank you very much, and God be with you.

Note: The President spoke at 5 p.m. from a balcony on the Presidential Office Building overlooking the Plaza. His opening words "Mr. President" referred to President Chiang Kai-shek.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address at a Mass Rally in Taipei Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234798

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