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President questions opposition leader's ability to maintain status quo

Taipei, July 3 (CNA) President Ma Ying-Jeou has challenged opposition presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen on a promise she has made to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait, saying that he doubts that she will be able to do that without following his own policies. In an interview with a local TV news program late Thursday, Ma said that many things are required for the maintenance of the status quo in Taiwan's relations with China. Among them, he said, the most important things are no de jure independence for Taiwan and the acknowledgement of "one China" with both Taiwan and China free to interpret what that means. If Taiwan takes that position, Ma said, China would find it acceptable even if it is not satisfied. This is what made the strengthening of cross-strait relations possible over the last seven years, said Ma, who began his first four-year term in May 2008. The current status quo did not exist before he took office and it "did not fall out of the sky," according to Ma. Now, "there will be a big question mark" if someone leaves out those two things while stating the intention to maintain the status quo, he said. Asked about Tsai's policy on cross-strait relations, Ma said that it seems she wants to follow his policy of no talk of unification with China and no use of force as a way of solving cross-strait disputes. It remains to be seen, however, whether the chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party will be willing to say she will not pursue Taiwan independence if she is elected president in January, Ma said. In the interview, Ma described Taiwan's relationship with China as one with both a friend and an enemy, citing the newly coined word "frenemy." What his administration has done over the years has been to expand the "friend" aspect and reduce the "enemy" part in cross-strait relations, he said. Cross-strait relations began to improve shortly after Ma became president, with direct air links established and Beijing allowing Chinese citizens to visit Taiwan as tourists, helping the number of Taiwan's inbound visitors increase to 9.91 million in 2014. Nearly 4 million of those visitors came from China. But Ma's administration faces criticism over its perceived coziness with a dictatorship that has never renounced the concept of taking Taiwan by force.
(By Kelven Huang and Jay Chen)

Updated : 2021-09-19 17:38 GMT+08:00