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President concerned about future development of cross-strait ties

President concerned about future development of cross-strait ties

Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (???) expressed concerns about the future development of the relations between Taiwan and China and worries that the status-quo would not be maintained, during his National Day address Saturday. Ma, who will step down next May when he completes two four-year terms in office, said that his administration has achieved "good results in cross-strait relations." "But can we maintain that status quo going forward? To be honest, I'm concerned," he told attendees at the National Day ceremony held at the plaza in front of the Presidential Office. The event was attended by senior government officials and heads of the ruling Kuomintang, the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), and the minority People First Party. The current status quo cannot be taken for granted, he said, stressing that certain principles need to be upheld to preserve it. Otherwise, he said, the same problems in the Taiwan Strait seen seven years ago might recur; that is cross-strait relations were at a standstill and as a result Taiwan's relations with other countries suffered. The president also highlighted five principles that have helped maintain the current cross-strait status quo over the past seven years, since he took office in May 2008. First, under the framework of the Republic of China Constitution, "we've maintained a cross-strait status quo defined by three principles: no unification, no independence, and no use of force," he said. He described it as the "Taiwan Consensus," which opinion polls have found to be supported by almost 80% of the public. The second principle is to promote peaceful development across the strait based on the "1992 consensus," which refers to a tacit agreement reached between Taiwan and China in 1992 that there is only one China, with each side free to interpret the meaning of the term. "It was Taiwan that proposed the 1992 Consensus, which was accepted by mainland China," he said. "It's a cross-strait consensus, endorsed by over 50% of the public." Putting Taiwan first, for the benefit of the people, while engaging with China is the third principle, he said, adding that the fourth is "to address urgent matters before non-urgent matters, easy issues before difficult issues, and economic matters before political matters" in negotiations with mainland China. Speaking on the fifth principle, he said that Taiwan's interactions with the mainland are based on equality, dignity, and reciprocity. Among these principles, the 1992 consensus is the most important in promoting peaceful development across the Taiwan Strait, he added. Since the consensus was formulated, the development of cross-strait ties has shown that "if we abide by that consensus, cross-strait relations flourish," he said. "If we diverge from it, relations will deteriorate. And if we oppose it, there will be turmoil in the Taiwan Strait," he added. Noting that the 1992 consensus is based on the ROC Constitution, he said "when we refer to 'one China,' of course we mean the Republic of China -- not 'two Chinas,' not 'one China, one Taiwan,' and not 'Taiwan independence.'" The consensus has allowed "cross-strait relations and international relations to form a virtuous cycle," he said. "If the next ROC president is willing to continue on this path, cross-strait relations will continue to be peaceful and prosperous," he added. DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen (???), who is leading in public opinion polls and is expected to win the January presidential election if the current situation is maintained, has refused to recognize the 1992 consensus, but has vowed to continue to promote peace and stability across the strait under the Constitution. Over the past seven years, Ma said, his administration has promoted the peaceful development of cross-strait relations, which helped transform the Taiwan Strait from a flash point in East Asia to an avenue of peace. "In Taiwan, a broad consensus has coalesced around maintaining the status quo," he said, adding that political leaders who were attending the ceremony have all voiced support for preserving the status quo. Maintaining the status quo has become mainstream public opinion and that support shows his administration's cross-strait policy of the past seven years "is not biased towards mainland China while selling out Taiwan," he said. His policy does not undermine the country's sovereignty, he added. "The situation in the Taiwan Strait is now more peaceful and prosperous than it has ever been in the 66 years since the two sides came under separate governance," he said. Citing as examples the achievements in the cross-strait relations over the seven years, he said Taiwan and mainland China have signed 23 cooperation agreements, as well as increased Chinese tourists to Taiwan, and allowed more Chinese students to study in Taiwan. Since the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) was signed between Taiwan and China in 2010, US$2.5 billion in tariffs have been eliminated, he added. The improvement in cross-strait ties has also had a positive impact on Taiwan's international relations and the country's efforts as a peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid, he said. He cited as examples the conclusion of a fisheries agreement with Japan that addressed long-running fishing disputes surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands, as well as the consensus reached with the Philippines on maritime law enforcement procedures. On international humanitarian assistance, "from Haiti to Japan, from the Philippines to Syria, from West Africa to the Caribbean, from Nepal to El Salvador, and from Iraq to Guatemala, we have provided humanitarian assistance in the form of material and monetary donations, as well as various services," Ma said. (By Hsieh Chia-chen and Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-20 10:02 GMT+08:00