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President urges Australia to upgrade ties with Taiwan

President urges Australia to upgrade ties with Taiwan

Sydney, Oct. 28 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou has urged Australia to strengthen its substantive relations with Taiwan in light of improved ties across the Taiwan Strait.
Raising the issue in a recent interview with The Australian newspaper, Ma said Taiwan's peaceful engagement with China over the past 18 months since his inauguration "has changed history, not just of this country but of this region." "If Beijing is willing to improve relations with us, why couldn't Australia?" Ma asked.
While Taiwan's past competition with China for diplomatic partners among Pacific nations led to a worsening of relations with Australia, Ma told the newspaper that there is now "some kind of tacit understanding" between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on a diplomatic truce.
"So given the changed circumstances, I'm sure Canberra should have a new policy -- not in the sense of changing its previous one-China policy, but to enhance the substantive relationship with Taiwan, of trade and investment, education and tourism," he said.
The president expressed support for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's initiative for the formation of an "Asia-Pacific community" by 2020 and said he hopes Taiwan could also be included in the regional organization.
Also, Ma said he looks forward to meeting Rudd and receiving more visits from officials in Rudd's Cabinet.
The content of the interview was published Tuesday in a commentary titled "We've left Taiwan out in the cold" written by Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor of the newspapar.
Callick wrote that the question raised by Ma is "fair." Callick noted that Taiwan is one of the few countries that Australia has not approached when lobbying for regional support for Rudd's vision, although Taiwan has a slightly higher population than Australia and is Australia's eight-largest export market.
"If China can engage so fully with Taiwan -- in business, tourism, education and culture -- why should Australians remain so coy, leaving aside the necessity to observe the usual diplomatic niceties?" Callick questioned, echoing Ma's call.
(By Derek Chen and Y.F. Low)




Updated : 2021-02-25 20:59 GMT+08:00