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Institutionalizing cross-strait detente best defense for Taiwan: Ma

Institutionalizing cross-strait detente best defense for Taiwan: Ma

Taipei, Oct. 7 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Tuesday that the institutionalization of cross-strait reconciliation is the first line of defense for ensuring Taiwan's security and reducing the chances of armed conflict with China. National security is very important for Taiwan, and how the country develops its national defense strategy is a "highly important issue" as China increases its military spending by 10-20 percent each year, Ma told a delegation from the Hudson Institute, a U.S. think tank. "If either side unilaterally changes the status quo, both sides will be greatly affected," Ma told the delegation led by Seth Cropsey, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities. "The institutionalization of cross-strait reconciliation is the first line of defense between mainland China and us," he said.
He noted that compared to when the two sides split 65 years ago, significant changes in the cross-strait dynamic have seen trade between Taiwan and China hit US$163.6 billion last year as over 8 million people traveled across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan's second line of defense, meanwhile, is in international relations, the president said. Ma called the Republic of China government on Taiwan a peacemaker, a provider of humanitarian aid, a promoter of cultural exchanges, a creator of new technologies and business opportunities and a standard-bearer of Chinese culture. Although it has formal diplomatic relations with only 22 countries, over 50 countries have representative offices in Taiwan and 140 countries have granted Taiwanese passport-holders visa waiver or landing visa privileges, he noted. Military power is the third line of defense, he said.
The transition starting last year to convert Taiwan's compulsory military service system to an all-volunteer one aims at building a small but elite force, he said. Together, the three strategies have helped increase trust and lower animosity across the strait, Ma said. "But that does not mean there are no problems in bilateral relations," he admitted. "Many disagreements still exist," he said, citing the barriers that Taiwan still faces when it seeks to participate in international organizations, though he noted that since he took office in 2008, Taiwan has been able to take part in the World Health Assembly and the International Civil Aviation Organization. (By Claudia Liu and Christie Chen)


Updated : 2021-06-13 07:47 GMT+08:00