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President Ma meets Director Richard Bush of Brookings Institution's Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of September 14 with Dr. Richard Bush, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and director of its Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies. During the meeting, President Ma emphasized that the ROC does not recognize the Japanese government's move to nationalize the Diaoyutai Islands. Even though the Japanese government has indicated that its action would not impact the fishing rights of Taiwan's fishermen, the president said that the ROC cannot be sure about the sincerity of Japan until and unless it sees that Taiwan's fishermen operating in the area are not being obstructed.
In remarks, President Ma stated that he wants the ROC to play the role of peacemaker in the international community. It is with this in mind that after the controversy over the Diaoyutais emerged, he immediately unveiled his "East China Sea Peace Initiative" to urge all parties to shelve the sovereignty dispute and instead jointly develop and share in the resources in the area. President Ma stated that although national sovereignty cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared. The president pointed to the experience of European nations handling the North Sea sovereignty dispute, saying that this provides valuable reference in the current dispute surrounding the Diaoyutais. He added that turning to peaceful and cooperative means to resolve international disputes is an established policy of the ROC and that the government will work to achieve this objective.
President Ma stated that the Office of the Governor-General in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period (1895-1945) twice designated the seas around the Diaoyutais as fishing grounds of Taiwan. This area, he said, has been a fishing grounds for the fishermen of Taiwan for hundreds of years. In the 1970s, when the dispute over the Diaoyutais emerged, Taiwan's fishermen frequently were disrupted by the Japanese government while fishing in the seas around the Diaoyutais. In response, the ROC had no choice but to dispatch vessels to protect Taiwan's fishermen, he said.
The president told Dr. Bush that since he was inaugurated over four years ago, the government has worked within the framework of the ROC Constitution to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force," and has sought peaceful cross-strait relations on the foundation of the "1992 Consensus," whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means. This, he said, has enabled the cross-strait relationship to reach its most stable point in the past 60 years. Meanwhile, with respect to relations between Taiwan and the United States, Taiwan embraces a "low key, no surprises" approach. This policy has paved the way for the restoration of mutual trust at the highest levels, the president said. He furthermore commented that the US government has also dispatched quite a few important officials to visit Taiwan, and that relations between the two sides are the friendliest they have been in the past 30 years.
President Ma mentioned that the Legislative Yuan on July 25 amended the Act Governing Food Sanitation, which has resolved the issue of imports of US beef to Taiwan. This has been extremely conducive to laying the groundwork for the resumption of negotiations between the two countries under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The president stated that Mr. Lien Chan (連戰) recently served as his representative to this year's APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting and during the event had the opportunity to hold bilateral talks with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. A consensus was reached to resume negotiations under the TIFA, he said, and he added that related preparatory work will begin as soon as possible.
President Ma furthermore stated that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on his Facebook page wrote that he hopes to conclude negotiations on the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP) by the end of this year. In addition, negotiations between Taiwan and New Zealand on an economic cooperation agreement are also progressing smoothly, the president said. He expressed his hopes that concrete results will be seen on these three economic cooperation accords within the foreseeable future. He added that this would support Taiwan's efforts to participate in regional economic integration, and would further create the conditions that enable Taiwan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership within eight years.
The president also mentioned that over 120 jurisdictions throughout the world now provide visa-free courtesies or landing visas to ROC nationals. The United States, he pointed out, is a common destination for ROC nationals, with over 400,000 people making visits there each year. Consequently, Taiwan hopes to be included in the US Visa Waiver Program as soon as possible, which he said would help to further promote bilateral exchanges.
President Ma remarked that Dr. Bush previously served as the Chairman of the Board and Managing Director of the American Institute in Taiwan, and is fluent in Chinese. Besides being an expert on Taiwan, cross-strait relations, and US policy on the ROC, he has been a longstanding friend to Taiwan, the president said. President Ma expressed his hopes that Dr. Bush will share his valuable opinions on related topics during his visit, adding that he hopes Taiwan-US relations will continue to move forward.
Dr. Bush was accompanied to the Presidential Office by American Institute in Taiwan Political Section Chief Daniel Turnbull to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting were National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Philip Y. M. Yang (楊永明) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Shen-Yeaw Ko (柯森耀).
【Source: Office of the President】