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President Ma talks history in video conference (update)

President Ma talks history in video conference (update)

Taipei, June 3 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (???) on Wednesday reaffirmed close Taiwan-U.S. ties and the stable development of cross-Taiwan Strait relations in a video conference with Stanford University on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war of resistance against Japan. In a 20-minute speech to begin the conference, Ma spoke of the hardships endured by the Republic of China during the eight-year war and its contributions to Allied forces during World War II, and he also thanked the United States for its wartime assistance. In July 1937, two years before World War II broke out, ROC forces began fighting against Japanese aggression alone, they continued with virtually no outside help for four long years, Ma said. It wasn't until Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that the Allies joined forces with the ROC in declaring war against Japan, the president said. The ROC's eight-year war of resistance, the longest war against foreign aggression in the country's history, required horrific sacrifices, with over 3 million military servicemen and 20 million civilians losing their lives or being seriously injured, according to the president. ROC forces made vital contributions to the Allied war effort, Ma said, citing Oxford University professor Rana Mitter's 2004 book Forgotten Ally: China's World War Two 1937-1945. They tied down 800,000 fully-modernized, well-trained Japanese troops, which allowed Allied forces to make counterattacks in both the European and Asian theaters at the same time, and ultimately prevail. "The U.S. proved to be a staunch friend," Ma said. The most notable example of that friendship was the American Volunteer Group (AVG), organized in 1941 even before the Pearl Harbor attack that became legendary by their nickname: the Flying Tigers. Led by Commander Claire Chennault, the Flying Tigers shot down nearly 300 Japanese aircraft within their first year in China and allowed the ROC's severely crippled Air Force to gradually regain its fighting capabilities. "So history tells very clearly and concretely: when the ROC really needed it, the U.S. was always there to extend a helping hand," Ma said. Although the ROC and the U.S. severed formal diplomatic ties in 1979, barely three months later, the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, and under that act, Taiwan is treated as a foreign government for purposes of U.S. law and the U.S. courts. The law also requires the U.S. to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons. "Since I came into office in 2008, mutual ROC-U.S. trust has been restored at the highest levels of government. And over the past two years, there have been frequent, reciprocal visits by high-level officials," Ma said. He cited US$18.3 billion in U.S. arms sales to Taiwan over the past seven years -- twice what was sold during the previous administration -- as a sign of strong bilateral ties.
"Increased trust at the highest levels, and closer political, economic, and security cooperation show that over the past seven years, Taiwan-U.S. ties are the best they've been in the 36 years since the Taiwan Relations Act was passed," he said. On relations with China, the president reiterated that since taking office in 2008, he has insisted on maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait under the framework of the ROC Constitution, which he said refers to "no unification, no independence and no use of force." Ma said he has also pushed for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations under the "1992 Consensus," referring to a tacit agreement between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait that there is "one China" with each side free to interpret what that means.
"The cross-strait situation is more stable and peaceful than it has ever been in the past 66 years," Ma said, citing the 21 agreements Taiwan and the mainland have signed over the past seven years and the 14 million trips Chinese visitors have made to Taiwan during that time. Wednesday's session was the sixth time Ma has held a video conference with U.S. opinion leaders to exchange views on Taiwan-U.S. relations and the regional situation. The president answered questions from conference participants at Stanford University after giving his speech. (By Claudia Liu and Lilian Wu)


Updated : 2021-09-22 19:58 GMT+08:00