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President Ma meets delegation led by US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon

President Ma meets with a delegation led by US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon. (01) President Ma meets with a delegation led by US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon. (02) President Ma meets with a delegation led by US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon. (03) President Ma meets with a delegation led by US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon. (04)

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of August 7 with a delegation led by US House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon. The president briefed his visitors on progress made by the ROC government in both cross-strait ties and international relationships, and also expressed hope for continued expansion of interaction and cooperation in all areas of Taiwan-US relations.

In remarks, President Ma stated that this marked the first visit to Taiwan by Congressman McKeon since 1999, and his first trip here in his capacity as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. It was also the first visit to Taiwan by a chairman of the House Armed Services Committee since former Chairman Floyd Spence visited Taiwan in December 2000, which made this visit all the more meaningful.

The president cited data indicating that the United States over the past six years has sold Taiwan an aggregate of over US$18.3 billion worth of arms, including P-3C anti-submarine aircraft and AH-64 Apache helicopters now being delivered that are helping promote Taiwan's war preparedness. He also stated that apart from an upgrade to its fighter jets, Taiwan strongly hopes to acquire diesel submarines in order to boost its training in anti-submarine operations.

President Ma also mentioned that April 10 of this year marked the 35th anniversary of the signing of the Taiwan Relations Act, and the US government regularly cites its commitments to Taiwan in the "six assurances" made prior to the US-PRC Joint Communique of August 17, 1982. This further demonstrates the sincerity and determination of the United States to abide by the Taiwan Relations Act.

As for economic and trade ties, the president said, last year trade in goods between Taiwan and the United States came to US$63.5 billion. Taiwan hopes to further strengthen the bilateral economic and trade ties, and to quickly negotiate and sign a bilateral investment agreement with the United States to promote even more investment between both countries.

In a discussion of the efforts made by Taiwan to participate in regional economic integration, President Ma told the delegation that last year Taiwan signed the ANZTEC economic cooperation agreement with New Zealand and the ASTEP economic partnership agreement with Singapore. He said Taiwan hopes that the signing of these trade agreements will exhibit Taiwan's determination in pursuing trade liberalization. As for the future, Taiwan hopes to create the necessary preconditions to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The president mentioned that two years ago anti-Japanese demonstrations erupted in 20 cities throughout mainland China after Japan announced the nationalization of the disputed Diaoyutai Islets, and tensions over the East China Sea became quite pronounced. In response, in August 2012 President Ma put forward his East China Sea Peace Initiative, urging all parties involved to use dialogue instead of confrontation, and to resolve disputes in a peaceful manner. Then in April of 2013, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement, effectively resolving a fishing dispute between the two sides that had plagued the bilateral relationship for 40 years. The president said this put into practice the initiative's philosophy that "although sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared." The agreement between Taiwan and Japan has reduced tension in the region and contributed to regional peace.

President Ma also mentioned the Guang Da Xing No. 28 fishing boat incident, in which a Philippine Coast Guard vessel fired on a Taiwanese fishing boat in overlapping exclusive economic waters, killing a fisherman and damaging the boat. After the ROC government strongly condemned the shooting, the two sides engaged in intensive investigations and negotiations over a period of three months, which ultimately yielded an official apology and compensation from the Philippines and the filing of homicide charges by the Philippine authorities against eight Coast Guard personnel. In addition, after repeated rounds of talks, the two sides reached a consensus to avoid the use of force when enforcing the law at sea, to notify each other before any law enforcement action is taken, and to promptly release any persons detained or arrested. The president pointed out that over the previous 10 years there had been 25 disputes between the two sides involving force in the enforcement of laws, but the number has now dropped to one. This shows that by acting on the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative, the ROC has already reaped an impressive peace dividend.

President Ma also explained that the basic tenet of the East China Sea Peace Initiative is the prohibition of the use of force in order to ensure freedom of navigation for all parties operating in the area. At the same time, the use of peaceful means to resolve disputes is a principle that can also be applied in the South China Sea. The ROC government embraces the use of peaceful means to resolve controversies in its handling of cross-strait affairs, as well as its relationships with Japan and the Philippines.

Commenting on cross-strait relations, the president said he began working for improvement upon taking office six years ago, and since then the two sides have signed 21 agreements and reached consensus on two other issues. Furthermore, he stated, in February and June of this year the ministerial officials from Taiwan and mainland China responsible for cross-strait affairs met. The discussions between Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, and Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) of mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, were held in Nanjing and Taipei, respectively. This proves that substantive process is being seen in cross-strait relations, the president added.

President Ma remarked that Taiwan's policy with regard to mainland China seeks long-term rather than short-term gain. The ultimate objective, he said, is to achieve peace and prosperity.

The president emphasized that the ROC will continue to play the roles of peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid, with the hope of enabling the international community to understand that the existence of the ROC is an asset and not a liability to the world.

Senator McKeon also made remarks. He started off by thanking President Ma for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with him. He praised the president for his commitment to the peaceful resolution of disputes with neighboring countries, which helps to set a good example for the world. Senator McKeon stated that if other regions would follow the methods of the ROC by using peaceful means to resolve conflicts, he is confident that the world would not see so many armed conflicts. Senator McKeon also expressed hope that this visit would help to further strengthen cooperation between Taiwan and the United States, thereby further deepening bilateral relations.

【Source: Office of the President】