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President Ma meets delegation from US Center for Strategic and International Studies

President Ma Ying-jeou met with a delegation of Taiwan Strait
policy experts from the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)
on the afternoon of October 26 at the Presidential Office. The president exchanged
opinions with the experts on a wide range of topics related to trends in the Taiwan
Strait, cross-strait relations, and Taiwan-US relations.

The president said he has been stressing the importance of relations
with the United States since taking office, and has worked through many channels
to restore mutual trust at the highest levels, pointing to arms procurements as
one example of progress. In October 2008, the Bush administration announced the
sale of defensive weapons to Taiwan, and in January of this year President Obama
agreed to a second sale of arms to Taiwan. The aggregate value of the two packages
is about US$13.2 billion, making it the largest sale of arms to Taiwan in the past
decade. President Ma added that he has been treated with great respect during his
transit stops in the United States. "Low key and no surprises" is a principle he
will continue to maintain in building friendship with the United States.

Addressing cross-strait relations, the president remarked that
within one month of taking office, the two sides resumed systematic negotiations
after a hiatus of 10 years. This led to the opening of direct cross-strait trade,
postal and transportation links, along with opening of Taiwan's doors to tourists
from mainland China. Over the past two and a half years, the two sides have signed
14 agreements covering food safety, product testing, judicial cooperation, financial
supervisory cooperation, reduction and elimination of tariffs, and protection of
intellectual property rights. The result of all of this has been the closest relations
between the two sides in 60 years, he said, adding that these agreements are bringing
Taiwan many benefits. For instance, tension between the two sides has eased, Taiwan's
exports to mainland China have increased, and Taiwan has profited from spending
by mainland tourists. In addition, the two sides have resolved many issues that
had been pending for years, including the hiring of mainland fishermen by Taiwan
fishing vessels, law enforcement cooperation (which has sharply reduced the number
of people in Taiwan victimized by scam operations), financial supervisory cooperation
(which enables both sides to establish bank branches in the other), and protections
for intellectual property rights (which will enable Taiwan's cultural and creative
industries to pursue opportunities in mainland China with greater confidence). All
of these are examples of "peace dividends," he said.

The president next addressed concerns among some in Taiwan that
over-reliance on the mainland market is eroding Taiwan's sovereignty. President
Ma stressed that the government is extremely careful to see to it that each agreement
is signed under the principle of "dignity, equality, and reciprocity," which ensures
that Taiwan's sovereignty and dignity remain intact. The president added that even
as it improves ties with mainland China, his administration is also developing relations
with the United States, Japan, ASEAN nations, Australia, New Zealand, and EU member
states. Within less than two months of the signing of the cross-strait Economic
Cooperation Framework Agreement in June this year, Singapore announced that it would
pursue an economic cooperation agreement with the ROC, and other countries have
followed suit. Talks on a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United
States, for example, are set to resume, and similar agreements are in the works
with Japan and other Asian nations. All of this has become possible because improved
cross-strait relations mean that countries face significantly less pressure to choose
sides. Meanwhile, the development of economic, trade, and cultural relations between
Taiwan and mainland China are generating greater interest and confidence here in
pursuing ties with mainland China, creating a virtuous circle, he said.

Turning to the state of the economy, President Ma told the guests
that Taiwan at the end of last year began to rapidly rebound from the economic crisis
of the previous year. Economic growth in the final quarter of last year was around
9%, and growth in the first half of this year reached 13%. Meanwhile, the president
noted that unemployment continues to drop, with the jobless rate having fallen by
over one percentage point over the past year, while salaries are on the rise. Economic
growth this year is expected to reach 8.2% and the unemployment rate is poised to
drop below 5%. President Ma stressed that amid this improvement, the government
will work to ensure the fair distribution of wealth.

Members of the CSIS delegation included Walter B. Slocombe, Charles
Freeman III, Cheng Li, Kerry Dumbaugh, Mark W. Frazier, and Daniel Kliman. The group
was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Thomas
Ping-Fu Hou to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security
Council Deputy Secretary-General Chih-kung Liu.

【Source: Office of the President】