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Remarks by President Ma at 2016 Fulbright Research Workshop(excerpt: cross-strait relations)

II. Creating a cross-strait peace dividend and a friendly environment conducive to international participation
In seeking to create cross-strait peace under the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of China, we have maintained the status quo, which we define, as Dr. Vocke also mentioned: “no unification, no independence, and no use of force,” at the same time based on the 1992 Consensus—whereby each side recognizes that there is “one China,” with each side having its respective interpretation of what that means. Well, people said the 1992 Consensus is a “masterpiece of ambiguity.” And believe it or not, it worked very well. So we have promoted the peaceful development of cross-strait relations. Since my taking office, the two sides have signed, altogether, 23 agreements, covering a variety of issues from trade, tourism, medical cooperation, joint efforts to fight crime, and nuclear power. And the respective ministers in charge of cross-strait affairs have met seven times, addressing each other using their official titles. This is very common between countries, but not between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. We never called officials from mainland China by their official titles. So this is quite a breakthrough. In a little over seven years, the number of regularly scheduled weekly flights between the two sides has increased from zero to 890. So there are 122 to 124 flights between Taiwan and the mainland every day. So this is unprecedented, and mainland tourists have already made over 18 million visits to Taiwan. We now also have over 42,000 mainland students studying in Taiwan, a 50-fold increase. Before I took office, there were only 823. You may ask me: What is the impact of their studying in Taiwan? Let me just give you an interesting episode. Four years ago, when I won re-election, the New York Times interviewed two students, one from Taiwan and one from mainland China, watching the election results. The Taiwanese student said, “Look, we've got a very efficient electoral system. Our people cast their votes in the morning, and they get the results right in the evening.” The mainland student said, “That's nothing. At home, we also cast our votes in the morning, but we knew the result the day before.” So you can see their reaction…you can also say they are very humorous, right?
So bilateral trade across the Taiwan Strait was almost US$160 billion last year, with around US$70 billion of surplus in Taiwan's favor. And this is very important, because overall, in bilateral trade between Taiwan and the rest of the world, our surplus is only about US$20 to US$30 billion. Now, our surplus with the mainland is US$ 70 billion. That means, without the trade with the mainland, our foreign trade will be in deficit, at least US$50 billion.
These developments have transformed the Taiwan Strait from a potential flashpoint of conflict into an avenue of peace.
I'm sure you probably remember, in 1958 the mainland started a massive bombardment of the small island of Kinmen, off the shore of mainland China. At that time, the island of Kinmen received 470,000 shells from the mainland; for almost every square meter, there are three shells. But now, they don't send shells any more. They send a lot of tourists to Kinmen, and the most favorite gift they want to buy and take back to mainland China, is a kitchen knife made from those shells. I was quite amazed—“How come you still have so much iron to do that?” They said, “We can continue doing that for many, many years.” After all, there were half a million shells fired against Kinmen in 1958.
So on November 7 last year, after building up ample cross-strait trust, and predicated on equality and dignity, I met mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore. That was the first meeting between cross-strait leaders since the two sides came under separate rule 66 years ago. We exchanged views on consolidating cross-strait peace and maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, addressing the practical concerns of Taiwan citizens while establishing a framework for long-term stability in cross-strait relations.
In terms of Taiwan's external relations, friendly cross-strait interactions in recent years have created space that not only ushered in cross-strait peace, but also created numerous peace dividends, paving the way for Taiwan's broader participation in the international arena. The most prominent ripple effect has been the strengthening of Taiwan-US relations, and the increase in trilateral interaction between the US, Taiwan, and mainland China.
In February of last year, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Daniel Russel, said that one of the things that has made the relationship between Taiwan and the United States productive has been the progress in cross-straits relations. And in a speech delivered in May of last year, by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton, she also recognized that the unofficial US-Taiwan relationship has never been better, calling Taiwan a vital partner of the US in Asia. She also emphasized that the stable management of cross-strait ties has been an important ingredient of the close cooperation between Taiwan and the US in recent years. These statement from US diplomats confirm the positive influence that cross-strait relations have had on Taiwan-US relations.
【Source: Office of the President】