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President Ma meets Taiwan delegation to the 8th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of July 26 with the delegation from Taiwan that will attend the 8th Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum to be held in Harbin. The president recognized the outstanding contributions to cross-strait interaction over the years.
In remarks, the president commented that the first Cross-Strait Economic, Trade and Cultural Forum was held back in 2006. Initially, the forum was attended by representatives from the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party. Over the years, however, the number and variety of people invited to attend the event have increased. In fact, he said, the more avenues there are for cross-strait interaction and the more frequently such interactions take place, the more conducive the situation is to the development of peace between the two sides. Moreover, the Kuomintang established this mechanism back when it was the opposition party, he pointed out, so it makes all the more sense that this platform should continue to be maintained, expanded, and enhanced now.
President Ma stated that in the over four years since taking office, he has embraced the philosophies of "equality, dignity, and reciprocity," as well as "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people" in conducting cross-strait ties, and the benefits of this approach are becoming apparent, he said, pointing to the 16 bilateral agreements signed between the two sides. In addition, it is expected that the eighth meeting between the heads of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits will be held in August this year.
The president also mentioned that the Legislative Yuan on July 25 passed revisions to the Act Governing Food Sanitation and the government therefore hopes that negotiations with the United States under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement will be resumed before the end of this year. He furthermore stated that the government is presently working to hasten negotiations on follow-up talks related to trade in goods and services under the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.
President Ma emphasized that the government conducts cross-strait relations under the framework of the ROC Constitution and in accordance with the status quo in the Taiwan Strait of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force," while promoting the development of peace between the two sides on the basis of the "1992 Consensus," whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means. For us, said the president, "one China" refers to the Republic of China. President Ma stated that the meaning of "one China" is the basis of the "1992 Consensus." On August 1, 1992, he said, former President Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) held a plenary session of the National Unification Council at the Presidential Office. It was at that time that the meaning of "one China" was approved by the council members, with the meaning of "one China" being "one China, respective interpretations." Both sides of the Taiwan Strait have maintained the "one China" principle, he said, noting that each side, however, has had a different interpretation of that phrase. This subsequently has served as an important foundation for the conduct of cross-strait relations, the president said.
The president mentioned that the theme of this year's forum is "Peaceful Development, Cultural Ties." He commented that the two sides have had close cultural ties in recent years, especially in the arts. As for ties in the field of education, the president stated that two years ago the government began opening Taiwan's doors for students from mainland China. Both last year and this year, about 1,000 students from mainland have come here to formally study at local schools, and the president said the government is currently looking into how best to further expand this. One possibility he mentioned is encouraging graduates from technical institutes in mainland China to come to study at technical universities here.
President Ma believes that close interaction has enabled both sides to realize that Taiwan embodies an amalgamation of traditional and modern Chinese culture. However, Chinese culture originated in mainland China and quite a few characteristics of traditional culture are derived from there. As a result, there is still quite a bit more room for both sides to interact on this front, he said. In addition, the president stated that mainland Chinese students are quite interested in Taiwan's democratic system and how the Western democratic system has taken root, grown, and blossomed in an ethnic Chinese land. This also is a topic worthy of discussion at the forum, the president stated.
The president noted that about 220 representatives from Taiwan businesses are taking part in this year's forum. He welcomed this development and stated that mainland China's economy is presently undergoing structural changes. The business environment for Taiwan businesses is considerably different from what it was in the past, which is creating quite a few new challenges, he said. The government will make every effort to assist Taiwan businesses in responding to the difficulties that they are facing as a result, the president noted.
Lastly, President Ma reiterated that the government will continue to embrace the principle of addressing "urgent matters before non-urgent ones, easy issues before difficult ones, and economic matters before political ones" in conducting the cross-strait relationship. The president reiterated his appreciation to Kuomintang (KMT) Honorary Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) for his many years of outstanding contributions to cross-strait ties. He also expressed his best wishes for a successful forum.
Taiwan's delegation to the forum includes KMT Honorary Chairman Wu, KMT Vice Chairmen Lin Fong-cheng (林豐正) and John H. Chiang (蔣孝嚴), KMT Central Advisory Council Chairmen Chen Chiung-sung (陳炯松) and Chang Jung-kung (張榮恭), KMT Central Advisory Council Member Lee Chien-rong (李建榮), National Policy Foundation Vice Chairman Tsai Hsung-hsiung (蔡勳雄), People United Party Chairwoman Hsu Jung-shu (許榮淑), Adimmune Corp. Chairman Chan Chi-shean (詹啟賢), and KMT Institute for National Development and Mainland Affairs Department Director Kao Huei (高輝). The delegation visited the Presidential Office in the morning to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting were Secretary-General to the President Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) and National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真).
【Source: Office of the President】