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President Ma interviewed by Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper

President Ma Ying-jeou was interviewed by Editor in Chief Masafumi
Katayama of Japan's Sankei Shimbun newspaper on August 18. The interview was published
on August 19 on the front page of the newspaper, and also on Page 3 (general news)
and Page 9 (international news).

The article appearing on the front page was headlined "President
Ma States Japan-US Alliance is the Basis of Peace; Remains Wary of Mainland China's
Military Expansion." President Ma stressed that mainland China's military build-up
continues unabated. He added that Taiwan will not slack off on its national defense,
but will continue to acquire arms from the United States and maintain its military
cooperation with the latter.

President Ma reiterated his support for the US-Japan alliance
based on the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United
States. With regard to the incident involving a collision between a Japanese patrol
vessel and a Taiwan fishing vessel in waters near the Diaoyutai Islands in May of
2008, President Ma commented that Taiwan and Japan maintain different positions
regarding the territory and territorial waters of that area, and the time is not
yet ripe to resolve the situation, so the issue should be temporarily shelved. President
Ma expressed his hopes that the governments of the two countries can reach a concrete
consensus to enable fishermen to work in the area.

Meanwhile, the report also noted that Taiwan's Legislative Yuan
has approved the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). And
President Ma said that four key topics pertaining to market liberalization will
be taken up in the future with mainland China, including trade in goods, trade in
services, an investment guarantee agreement, and a dispute resolution mechanism.
The president said that Taiwan has not set a timeframe for conclusion of discussions
on these issues. He expressed his hopes that signing of the ECFA will encourage
other countries to enter into talks with Taiwan on economic cooperation agreements.
When the conversation turned to political issues, such as the possibility that mainland
China might attempt to follow up on the ECFA by seeking the signing of a cross-strait
peace agreement, President Ma stated that this is not the right time to tackle political
issues, nor is there any timetable for it.

The Sankei Shimbun also ran a story on Page 9 under the headline
"President Ma in Interview Expresses Hopes to Discuss FTAs with Other Countries,
Peacefully Handle Territorial Issues." The following is a summary of matters covered
in the interview:

The newspaper stated that approval of the ECFA by the Legislative
Yuan on the evening of August 17 is akin to the signing of a free trade agreement
with mainland China, and asked President Ma how long it can be expected to take
for Taiwan and mainland China to liberalize trade and investment, and open up market
access. The president responded that the ECFA will formally take effect from January
1 of 2011 and that tariffs on products will be reduced in stages. (Mainland China
has agreed to abolish tariffs on 539 items, while Taiwan has agreed to eliminate
tariffs on 267 items). The first round of tariff cuts will take effect on January
1, he said, adding that the next stage of negotiations will be held within six months
of that date. President Ma pointed out that Taiwan's goal is to engage in negotiations
with mainland China on agreements covering liberalization of trade in goods and
services, an investment guarantee agreement, and the establishment of a mechanism
for early resolution of trade disputes. No specific timeframe has been set for completing
these agreements, he said.

When asked whether Taiwan will open its doors to agricultural
products from mainland China that have a competitive edge over Taiwan's own products,
and whether it will liberalize its labor market, President Ma stated that free trade
agreements worldwide do not address the liberalization of labor markets, nor does
the ECFA. He said that during Chen Shui-bian's presidency, the government opened
Taiwan to 1,415 agricultural products from mainland China, and this government will
not liberalize the import from mainland China of Taiwan's other 800-plus agricultural

In response to a question regarding Taiwan's hope that signing
of the ECFA will enable Taiwan to expedite the negotiation of free trade agreements
with other countries, the president noted that of Taiwan's 23 diplomatic allies,
it has signed free trade agreements with four nations in Central America. These
nations are small, and trade with them accounts for less than 0.2% of Taiwan's total
trade, but Taiwan has also signed over 800 agreements governing a host of practical
issues with 171 nations that do not maintain diplomatic ties with the ROC.

The main barrier to signing free trade agreements, President
Ma said, has always been pressure exerted by mainland China, but this pressure has
diminished in the wake of the signing of the ECFA. He further noted that Taiwan
and Singapore will begin negotiations on a free trade agreement before the end of
this year. In addition, in the future Taiwan will commence talks with major trading
partners, including Japan and Europe. The president stated that the agreements do
not necessarily need to be referred to as free trade agreements. They might alternatively
be called economic partnership agreements or investment protection agreements, but
we will welcome them as long as they eliminate economic barriers, he said.

Asked how Taiwan would respond if mainland China sought to build
on the ECFA by seeking expanded cultural and political ties as a means to achieve
its objective of unification, the president said that some mainland Chinese scholars
and media sources have promoted this idea. However, mainland Chinese authorities
have not taken any concrete actions aimed at hastening the initiation of discussions
on political issues. The president said that the conditions for political negotiations
(on the signing of a cross-strait peace agreement) are not yet ripe. At present,
the focus should be on strengthening economic ties, which is easier to achieve.
No timetable has been set for the beginning of political talks, the president emphasized.

The interviewer mentioned that there had been talk for a time
that mainland China's President Hu Jintao might meet with President Ma, and the
latter acknowledged that some analysts do hope for such a meeting, but no such plan
or thinking in this regard exists at this time.

As to how Taiwan will respond to mainland China's rapid military
build-up, its ability to wage war in the open seas, its building of an aircraft
carrier, and the impact that this has on East Asian security, President Ma said
that Taiwan has a clear understanding of recent events on the Korean Peninsula and
in mainland China. He said that Taiwan supports what the United States, Japan, and
South Korea have done in response to the sinking of a South Korean frigate by North
Korea. The president stated that mainland China's military build-up continues uninterrupted,
and that Taiwan is not slacking off in its preparations against any attack. He said
that Taiwan will continue to purchase arms from the United States and maintain military
cooperation with America. Meanwhile, Taiwan’s armed forces will continue to carry
out military exercises.

In response to disagreements arising between Japan and the United
States since the Democratic Party of Japan came to power, the president said that
Taiwan has consistently supported the US-Japan alliance based on the Treaty of Mutual
Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States. With respect to the
issue of relocating the US air base in Futenma, the president said he hopes that
the handling of the situation by the Japanese government will steadily improve now
that Prime Minister Naoto Kan has taken office. The US-Japan alliance is the basis
of peace and security in East Asia, he said.

Lastly, the newspaper stated that while Taiwan and Japan maintain
a friendly relationship, relations took a turn for the worse two years ago after
the collision of a Japanese patrol vessel and a Taiwan fishing vessel in waters
near the Diaoyutai Islands. Asked how disputes regarding territory, territorial
waters, and fishing rights should be resolved, President Ma commented that Taiwan
and Japan have different viewpoints on these issues. This is not the right time
to resolve these issues, he said, adding that prior to reaching an agreement, both
sides should respect the standpoints of the other side and handle issues in this
regard peacefully. President Ma said that with regard to the sovereignty dispute
over the Diaoyutai Islands, Taiwan does not have any intention to cooperate with
mainland China. He said he hopes that Taiwan and Japan can solve the issue between
themselves. In addition, he expressed his hopes that Taiwan and Japan can reach
a practical consensus with regard to engaging in fishing in the area.

【Source: Office of the President】