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President Ma meets delegation from University of Southern California US-China Institute(excerpt: cross-strait relations)

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of March 11 with a delegation from the University of Southern California US-China Institute. The president gave his visitors a detailed presentation on the ROC's successes in improving relations with mainland China and the US, and expressed hope for further deepening of bilateral exchanges and cooperation.
In remarks, President Ma stated that after taking office in 2008 he set out to improve cross-strait relations, and has completely changed the situation in the Taiwan Strait. Pointing to Taiwan's early 2016 presidential election as an example, he noted that cross-strait relations did not become a major issue during the campaign because the three candidates all called for maintaining the status quo created by the government over the past eight years, and they all understood that maintaining peaceful and stable cross-strait relations is the only way to promote better ties with the US. And, more importantly, the policy of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force" has become a "Taiwan consensus" supported by over 80% of the public, while the idea of basing relations on the 1992 Consensus—whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means—enjoys better than 50% support. Given the overwhelming public support for "maintaining the status quo," the topic of cross-strait relations naturally was not a focus of debate during the campaign.
Regarding the impact of improved cross-strait relations on Taiwan, President Ma pointed to cross-strait economic and trade ties as an example, noting that Taiwan has enjoyed a cumulative trade surplus of more than US$500 billion versus the mainland over the past seven-plus years, while its overall cumulative trade surplus over the same period has come to about US$200 billion. So it is apparent that, but for the trade surplus versus the mainland, Taiwan would have posted a trade deficit.
President Ma further pointed out that despite the considerable importance of cross-strait economic and trade ties, Taiwan still is not excessively reliant on those ties. Before he came to office, for example, cross-strait trade accounted for 40% of Taiwan's total external trade, up from 24% in 2000. But his administration actively sought to diversify Taiwan's markets and increase exports to Southeast Asia, and as a result, cross-strait trade now accounts for only 39% of Taiwan's external trade. And, more importantly, the beneficiaries of cross-strait trade are not just major manufacturers, as is often erroneously claimed; in fact, 49.6% of the benficiaries are small and medium enterprises.
The president said that over the past eight years, even though the people of Taiwan have come to understand quite well that the possibility of war in the Taiwan Strait is decreasing over time, it is nevertheless also true that a lot of cross-strait issues remain unresolved. The most obvious of these are the military threat and continuing attempts to crowd Taiwan off the international stage. The president brought up both of these issues when he met with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore last November, and called for the mainland to take concrete steps to improve the situation.
President Ma also remarked that reconciliation and cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait help promote peace in the East and South China Seas. The ROC put forward the East China Sea Peace Initiative in 2012, then signed a fisheries agreement with Japan the next year, followed by its 2015 South China Sea Peace Initiative proposal and the signing that same year of an Agreement Concerning the Facilitation of Cooperation on Law Enforcement in Fisheries Matters with the Philippines. These breakthroughs have effectively reduced regional tensions. But if relations between Taiwan and the mainland had not improved, said the president, the East and South China Sea peace initiatives would not have had such a big impact.
【Source: Office of the President】