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Transcript of President Ma's Associated Press interview

President Ma Ying-jeou was interviewed on October 19 by the Associated
Press (AP). As the AP reporting turned out differently from what the president meant
in his remarks during the interview, the Office of the President has the Government
Information Office under the Executive Yuan to contact the AP and request a correction.

Firstly, with respect to the issue of unification, AP reports:

Any political union, he said, would require Beijing to adopt
democracy and respect for human rights, under special scrutiny following the award
of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed China democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo. Because
of such concerns, Ma did not cite any timetable for the process, saying it would
be a "long historical" transition.

Below is the interview transcript:

AP: I wanted to circle back to something you said earlier. I
think what I heard you say was that a truly democratic system of government in the
mainland is the only way that the Taiwanese people will engage in a conversation
about unification.

President Ma: I think that will help, that will help. In other
words, but there’s no guarantee how long it would take for the people of Taiwan
to believe it’s time to do so. And opinion polls show that the majority of the people
support maintaining the status quo. And obviously this trend has been maintained
for over at least 20 years. And given the high approval rate of the status quo I
think we’ll continue. So far, the mainland, aside from the economic side, the political
reforms on the democratic side have made little progress.

Secondly, with respect to discussion of cross-strait political
agreements, AP reports:

In between the poles of union and separation, Ma said his government
is prepared to discuss political agreements, including security issues, as soon
as the priority economic issues are dealt with. He suggested that those political
talks could start as early as a second four-year term if he wins re-election in

The interview transcript, however, shows that the president did
not make such remarks. Transcript:

AP: Would the policy that you’re spelling out carry through a
second term, were you to be reelected? Is just this period that you’re talking about—of
economic outreach, travel back and forth but not political dialogue—does that carry
through a second administration, or is that a commitment that you made for the first

President Ma: Well, it depends on how fast we move with our relations
with the mainland. For instance, now, we are almost two-and-a-half years into my
presidency and we have achieved 14 agreements with the mainland. But we haven’t
finished the important ones, for instance, an investment guarantee agreement, a
dispute settlement agreement. And for our trade, in terms of tariff concessions
and non-tariff barriers, we have only reached the first phase on the negotiations—that
is what we call the “early harvest.” So the two sides will return to the negotiating
table next year to discuss the rest of the trade and other relationships. So we
still have our hands full with all these economic issues because, you see, the two
sides have a trade volume of over US$100 billion and we haven’t got any mechanism
for dispute settlement and for a number of things that will exist between two normal
economic entities. That is exactly what we want to do. We are not intentionally
delaying the talks of political issues, but certainly, the economic ones are more
important to people here, and people also support the idea of economy first, politics

AP: So, do I understand you correctly that, if economic issues
are resolved during your second term, during that term, you might move on to political

President Ma: As I said, it depends on how fast we move, whether
these issues are satisfactorily resolved, and of course all the policies regarding
the mainland are very sensitive, and we certainly will also make decisions on generally
whether the decision receives popular support. So usually when we lay out our general
policy, we will say that: first of all, it has to be something needed by the country;
secondly, it has to be supported by the people; and thirdly, that it will be supervised
by the national parliament to make sure that this is a policy basically meeting
the needs of the people.

AP: In that progression from economic issues to political issues,
what about the security issues and perhaps moving towards confidence-building measures
between the militaries, where does that fall in this process?

President Ma: The CBM issue is generally considered in the broad
sense of political issues. And certainly as I said, that will come after all the
major economic issues are resolved. But we’re not in a hurry because the two sides,
as a result of the efforts we’ve made, greatly reduced tension across the Taiwan
Strait. When we talk about CBM—confidence building measures—when we signed, when
we negotiated and signed the ECFA, that was a very important CBM. And the process
lasted for over a year, and during the process, the officials involved from the
two sides also built mutual trust in some regard. And this is exactly what we would
like to see. So they can just pick up a phone and call each other.

For instance, when we reached the agreement to have judicial
assistance, mutual assistance in judicial affairs, the police from the two sides
met and jointly broke several rings of crime on fraud, and we have so far apprehended
1,200 criminals in this regard, and greatly reduced that crime, the fraud—even people
told me that they used to receive many calls—which will affect fraud, but the number
was greatly reduced. And so the cross-strait rapprochement did bring many benefits,
not just economic, but also for our personal safety and all other things.

【Source: Office of the President】