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President Ma meets delegation of East Asian security experts from US Center for Strategic and International Studies

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of August 16 with a delegation of experts on East Asian security from the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In addition to explaining developments in cross-strait ties and Taiwan-US relations over the past several years, the president reiterated his hopes that Taiwan and the US will resume negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) as soon as possible, and that Taiwan will soon be formally included in the US Visa Waiver Program. Progress on these two fronts, he said, will help to further enhance economic, trade, and cultural ties between the two countries.
In remarks, the president stated that elections held in January of this year for the 13th-term president and vice president of the ROC, as well as members of the 8th Legislative Yuan, went very smoothly. The polls, he said, once again showed the maturity of Taiwan's democracy and demonstrated the resolute determination of the people of Taiwan to uphold democracy. President Ma said that Jon Huntsman, the former US ambassador to mainland China who visited Taiwan last month, stated that the impact of values and principles far exceeds that of military power. The president said that he wholeheartedly agrees with this viewpoint.
President Ma commented that four years ago he proactively promoted the peaceful development of cross-strait relations as soon as he was inaugurated. This has helped stabilize the situation in the Taiwan Strait, he said, adding that over four million tourists from mainland China have visited Taiwan since July 2008. In addition, over 10,000 mainland Chinese exchange students and full-time students are studying here, he said. Meanwhile, the cumulative number of visits made by people from Taiwan to mainland China since 2008 stands at over six million. All of these statistics point to an unprecedented state of close interaction among the people of the two sides, the president said. Furthermore, President Ma pointed out that Taiwan and mainland China have signed 18 agreements to date, including the Cross-Strait Investment Protection and Promotion Agreement and the Cross-Strait Customs Cooperation Agreement, both of which were signed recently at the eighth meeting between P. K. Jiang (江丙坤), Chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, and Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), Chairman of mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits.
President Ma stressed that the ROC government has consistently sought, under the framework of the ROC Constitution, to maintain the status quo of "no unification, no independence, no use of force" in the Taiwan Strait, and to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait ties under the "1992 Consensus," whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means. These concepts have been tested over the past four years and have shown to be the most effective and pragmatic pillars in supporting the development of cross-strait ties, he said.
The president also mentioned that at the same time as cross-strait relations are improving, Taiwan and the United States have also resumed mutual trust at the highest levels. President Ma pointed to the decision by the US government on three occasions to sell arms to Taiwan, the aggregate value of which is about US$18.3 billion. The United States, he said, has also reaffirmed the "Six Assurances" that it made to Taiwan in 1982. In addition, a number of high-ranking US officials have visited Taiwan last year and this year. The president also mentioned that US Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius during last year's World Health Assembly held a press conference at which she firmly proclaimed that "no organization of the UN has a right to unilaterally determine the position of Taiwan." President Ma stated that this marked the strongest statement of support for Taiwan by the United States in an international venue in many years. It also implied that Taiwan can continue to play a constructive role in the international community, he said. The president said he is confident that this carries positive significance for the United States, the ROC, and even for mainland China. President Ma also pointed out that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also stressed in November of last year during the APEC meetings in Honolulu that Taiwan is an important security and economic partner of the United States. These statements attest to the increasingly close relations between the two countries, the president said.
President Ma added that the ROC supports and recognizes the US move to realign its strategic focus to Asia. He expressed his hopes that the United States will continue to fulfill its commitment to the security of Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and that the two will work together on maintaining peace in East Asia. This, he said, is the reason for his recently unveiled East China Sea Peace Initiative.
The president stated that besides cooperation between Taiwan and the United States in security, both sides maintain close cooperation in such areas as anti-terrorism, anti-proliferation, prevention of drug transshipment, and prevention of human trafficking. The United States, he remarked, is one of Taiwan's key trading partners. Even though the two sides in 1994 signed the TIFA, negotiations have been stalled in recent years due to the dispute over imports of US beef to Taiwan. President Ma explained, however, that an extraordinary session of the Legislative Yuan last month finally passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation to allow the import of beef that contains traces of ractopamine (a livestock feed additive to promote leanness) as long as it does not exceed a certain threshold. In light of this, the president expressed his hopes that negotiations under the TIFA can be resumed as soon as possible, which will bring about a greater level of free trade between the two countries. This, he said, is an important step in Taiwan's goal to create the conditions within eight years to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which will enable Taiwan to further be included in the trend towards regional economic integration.
The president also mentioned that presently 128 jurisdictions throughout the world provide visa-free courtesies or landing visas to ROC nationals. President Ma furthermore expressed his desire to see the United States include Taiwan in its Visa Waiver Program in the second half of this year, which he said will boost interaction among people of the two countries.
President Ma also expressed his deepest appreciation to the United States for its resolute support for Taiwan's participation in the World Health Organization, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and other international organizations. He stated that the ROC and the United States share common interests in security and trade, and also both embrace the core values of democracy, freedom, human rights, and rule of law. He expressed his hopes that the two sides will continue to enhance interaction and cooperation on a wide variety of fronts.
The delegation was led by retired US Navy Admiral and the Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow from Stanford University's Hoover Institution Gary Roughead, and was accompanied to the Presidential Office by American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office Deputy Director Brent Christensen to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting were Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Chin-tien Yang (楊進添) and National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Lu Hsiao-jung (陸小榮).
【Source: Office of the President】