Taiwan president, gay rights fighter on Time's list of influential figures

09/23/2020 02:25 PM
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From Time
From Time's website

Taipei, Sept. 23 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Taiwanese gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei (祁家威) have been included in Time magazine's 2020 list of the 100 most influential people in the world, which was released Tuesday.

In an introduction on Tsai, U.S. Republican Senator Ted Cruz praised the Taiwanese leader as "a signal lamp casting out China's looming shadow, conveying to the world that Taiwan will not acquiesce to the Chinese Communist Party."

"While Taiwan stands a mere 100 miles from mainland China, under President Tsai's leadership, it is neither adrift nor drawn in," Cruz wrote.

"Freedom is its North Star, which has been clear in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Taiwan has proved that the virus can be controlled-without emulating China's drastic policies,"he wrote.

Cruz said some cynics have claimed Taiwan "was too small and too isolated" to stand up to China, but "President Tsai stood tall."

"When China lured Taiwan's allies into cutting off ties with the island nation, President Tsai was undeterred," he continued.

"China is the world's largest communist regime, and this self-made woman is determined to resist it. She does not cower," he concluded.

President Tsai Ing-wen speaks when inspecting an Air Force base in Penghu Tuesday. CNA photo Sept. 22, 2020
President Tsai Ing-wen speaks when inspecting an Air Force base in Penghu Tuesday. CNA photo Sept. 22, 2020

This is the second time Tsai has been named by the magazine as one of the world's 100 influential people. The last time Tsai made the list was in 2016.

Asked to comment, presidential spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) thanked Senator Cruz for his introduction of Tsai, adding that the U.S. politician has been a long-term supporter of Taiwan and the nation's participation in international organizations.

Chang said President Tsai's inclusion in the 100 most influential people list represents the achievement of the whole country and not her alone.

The president thanked everyone in Taiwan for their joint efforts in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nation's success in preventing the spread of the pandemic; in maintaining regional peace; and in making contributions to the international community are the results of its united people, and have been recognized by the world, Chang said.

The president called on Taiwanese people to continue their joint efforts to make Taiwan a force for good in the international community and to continue to contribute to the world, Chang added.

Gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei. CNA file photo
Gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei. CNA file photo

Meanwhile, Chi, a Taiwanese gay rights activist and one of the petitioners who brought the case to legalize same-sex marriage to Taiwan's constitutional court, is also included on the list.

In an introduction to Chi written by Tsai, the president praised Chi as a leader of Taiwan's LGBTQ community and "a symbol of hope to the next generation, the living embodiment of the idea that it truly does get better."

"He began advocating for marriage equality decades ago, at a time when civic advocacy could serve as grounds for imprisonment in Taiwan. Despite the danger, he repeatedly brought his case for equal rights to the courts, and his persistence led to the Grand Justices' constitutional interpretation ruling that required the government to legalize same-sex marriage, which took effect in 2019," Tsai wrote.

"Through the years, Chi has stood tall against immense prejudice with his larger-than-life courage. I'm confident that Chi will light the way to a future where everyone deserves to love and be loved," Tsai concluded.

Same-sex marriage in Taiwan became legal in May 2019. This made Taiwan the first nation in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Asked to comment, Chi thanked President Tsai for her words and said he was honored to be included in the list together with Tsai.

However, Chi added that although same-sex marriage is legal in Taiwan, there are still limitations.

He called on Taiwan to remove existing restrictions on cross-national same sex marriage, referring to the fact that current laws stipulate that a cross-national same-sex marriage can only be recognized in Taiwan if the countries where the two partners come from both recognize same-sex marriage.

The annual list is made up of 100 of the year's most influential leaders, artists, icons, titans and pioneers. Tsai was listed in the "leaders" category while Chi was featured in the "icons" category.

(By Yeh Su-ping, Wu Hsin-yun and Joseph Yeh)


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