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President Ma meets American Institute in Taiwan Managing Director Joseph R. Donovan, Jr.

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of February 25 with Joseph R. Donovan, Jr., Managing Director of the Washington Office of the American Institute in Taiwan. The president welcomed Mr. Donovan to Taiwan and called for continued expansion of ties and cooperation between Taiwan and the United States.

Noting that Mr. Donovan is married to a Taiwanese woman, President Ma pointed out that his visitor previously served as deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Tokyo, US consul general in Hong Kong/Macau, principal deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, and foreign policy advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He also served as an associate professor at the National War College of the National Defense University in the United States. The president noted that Mr. Donovan speaks fluent Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, and has a comprehensive portfolio of experience that combines theory and practice.

As for the development of cross-strait relations, the president stated, since he took office in 2008 the government has consistently sought, under the framework of the ROC Constitution, to maintain the status quo of "no unification, no independence, and 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. To date, the two sides have completed nine rounds of negotiations and signed 19 agreements, he said.

President Ma further stated that Wang Yu-Chi (王郁琦), Minister of the Executive Yuan's Mainland Affairs Council, on February 11 made a visit to mainland China and met with his counterpart there, Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. This was the first official meeting of the heads of the respective agencies responsible for cross-strait affairs since the two sides came under separate rule 65 years ago, he said. The president commented that this meeting also represents the gradual institutionalization of relations between the two sides. Both sides, he noted, are accepting political realities, which is an important and positive development. Concrete results of the meeting included agreements to establish a permanent mechanism for contact and communication, to provide medical insurance for students from the other side, and to examine issues associated with humanitarian visits. The president expressed hope that solutions can be reached as soon as possible.

As for law enforcement cooperation in offshore areas, President Ma pointed to mainland China's announcement of a special air defense identification zone in the East China Sea as an example of a situation where all parties should resolve disputes via peaceful means, in line with the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative put forward by Taiwan.

The president emphasized that US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel on February 5 of this year, during testimony at the US House Committee on Foreign Affairs, mentioned that the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative unveiled by Taiwan two years before aligns quite well with the strategic emphasis of the United States on respect for international law and peaceful resolution of controversies. In fact, President Ma said, Taiwan's government is also looking to reduce tension in the South China Sea by applying its basic philosophy that "although sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared."

In discussing Taiwan-US relations, the president stated that ties have been close over the past six years. Both former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry have publicly recognized the importance of Taiwan-US relations, and the United States in recent years has sold Taiwan US$18.3 billion worth of military equipment. The P-3C Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircrafts and the AH-64E attack helicopters that Taiwan purchased from the United States last year are now being delivered, he pointed out. In November 2012, he noted, Taiwan was formally included in the US Visa Waiver Program, and in March of last year Taiwan and the United States resumed negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. The president also mentioned that former Vice President Vincent C. Siew (蕭萬長) led a delegation of business leaders from Taiwan to visit the United States in November 2013. During the trip, the delegation expressed willingness to invest in the United States and support the SelectUSA investment initiative to promote bilateral economic and trade ties. All of these developments, the president commented, constitute substantive progress in bilateral security, trade, and economic cooperation.

President Ma then touched on Taiwan's participation in regional economic integration. He explained to Mr. Donovan that he has actively sought to promote the expansion of economic and trade relations between Taiwan and its major trading partners since he took office. Concrete steps in this regard include the signing of the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation and Framework Agreement between Taiwan and mainland China in 2010, followed by the signing of the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement in 2011. In July of last year, Taiwan and New Zealand signed the ANZTEC economic cooperation agreement, and in November Taiwan and Singapore signed the ASTEP economic partnership agreement, he said. This clearly demonstrates Taiwan's determination to achieve trade liberalization, the president stated.

President Ma also reiterated that the government this year will make every effort to promote economic growth. He explained that the Executive Yuan in August of last year formally launched several free economic pilot zones, and Taiwan will hasten deregulation in order to further open its markets, thereby making all of Taiwan into a "free economic island." At the same time, he said, Taiwan will create favorable conditions for it to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, since the member nations of these two groupings constitute 35% and 57% of Taiwan's external trade, respectively. Only by joining these two trade blocs can Taiwan avoid being marginalized in the regional economy and expand its international economic presence, the president remarked.

Lastly, President Ma emphasized that over the past six years the government has promoted a policy of "viable diplomacy." In addition to improving Taiwan's relations with mainland China, this policy has also enabled Taiwan to expand its participation in international activities. While Taiwan has faced problems and challenges in the pursuit of this policy, the president said, it has proven quite workable, so the government will continue to move steadily in this direction with the best interests of the nation in mind.

【Source: Office of the President】