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President Ma Interviewed by The New York Times

During an interview on October 31 with The New York Times, President Ma Ying-jeou discussed such issues as the chances of a meeting with his mainland Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, the development of Hong Kong's democracy, regional economic integration, relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, a fisheries agreement between Taiwan and Japan, the state of the South China Sea, and Taiwan's military preparedness.
A transcript of the interview follows:
Q. The first question we wanted to ask is, since we have APEC coming up in a week and a half, what has Beijing lost and what has Taiwan lost by your not meeting with Xi Jinping in Beijing?
A: We have always believed that APEC was the most appropriate place for the leaders of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to meet, as APEC has already settled questions of venue, title, and capacity. Especially in Taiwan, there is great public support, but the mainland has greater misgivings. They fear it may give the outside world the misimpression that there are two Chinas. Yet on many occasions I have stressed that the Republic of China government will not promote a policy of "two Chinas," "one China, one Taiwan," or "Taiwan independence." Our Constitution does not admit of such a thing. The mainland side is a bit overly concerned, so it is a pity that a meeting at APEC cannot take place.
Q. You've voiced support for democracy in Hong Kong. Has Beijing's reaction to the protests in Hong Kong changed your thinking about cross-strait relations, and are you risking cross-strait ties by voicing support for democracy in Hong Kong?
A: I think our support for Hong Kong's democracy will not be at the expense of cross-strait relations. Since I took office, as concerns cross-strait ties, we have signed 21 agreements and laid down a basic foundation. We have proceeded upon this foundation—namely the 1992 Consensus of "one China, respective interpretations." That will not be affected. As a matter of fact, every June 4, I release a statement concerning the Tiananmen incident. This time it's a different venue, but the basic concept is the same.
Another key point is that we believe that if mainland China can practice democracy in Hong Kong or if mainland China itself can become more democratic, then we can shorten the psychological distance between people from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. This would be a great step toward creating closer cross-strait ties over the long term.
Q. Xi Jinping seemed to be voicing more support for the "one country, two systems" approach even for Taiwan earlier this week as opposed to the 1992 Consensus. Have events in Hong Kong, in your view, made China potentially more eager for a more controlling role in long-term bilateral relations with Taiwan?
A: In fact, the mainland's introduction of the "one country, two systems" policy was back in about 1982, before the 1992 Consensus. Beijing introduced the "one country, two systems" model, and when they did so, we told them that Taiwan could not possibly accept it. Public opinion polls have consistently shown that most people oppose it. But many people in Taiwan support the "one China, respective interpretations" formulation, when "China" means "the Republic of China." For a long period, especially during the eight years preceding my taking office, cross-strait relations were very unstable. Why was this? Because the administration at the time did not accept the 1992 Consensus. When I took office, in my inaugural address, I clearly stated our support for the 1992 Consensus of "one China, respective interpretations," as a result of which the two sides quickly resumed negotiations that led to the signing of 21 agreements. So the 1992 Consensus remains a key foundation undergirding cross-strait relations. The mainland has not abandoned it. The mainland came out with its "one country, two systems" formula earlier.
Q. Changing subjects to trade. There are two competing visions now for trade in the Pacific. There's Beijing's FTAAP—the Free Trade Agreement of the Asia-Pacific—and then there's also the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Washington is suggesting. Which do you think fits Taiwan's economy better? Which has more appeal for you?
A: We want both [TPP and RCEP]. Both are important to us. The TPP includes 12 countries, with whom we enjoy annual two-way trade of US$200 billion, or about 35 percent of our total foreign trade. The RCEP, meanwhile, consists of 16 countries, with whom our foreign trade amounts to US$325 billion, or 57 percent of our foreign trade. These two groups share seven members. Together, these groups account for 70 percent of our foreign trade, so their importance to us is self-evident.
It must be understood that Taiwan is quite behind the rest of Asia in terms of signing free trade agreements (FTAs) and joining in regional economic integration.
Ascertaining whether a country is making sufficient efforts on these fronts involves looking at what percent of its exports is covered by FTAs. For Singapore, it exceeds 70 percent, meaning that over 70 percent of Singapore's exports are covered by FTAs, so they are subject to lower-tariff, or even zero-tariff, treatment. Sometimes these exports are also free from other, non-tariff barriers. But for Taiwan, the figure is 10 percent, or just under 10 percent. As a result, we do not enjoy equal treatment vis-a-vis our competitors, meaning that our products' market share in other countries will gradually shrink. This is a matter of life and death for us, because 70 percent of our GDP growth is dependent on foreign trade.
Q. Do you have any regrets that Taiwan did not make a bigger effort, then, to be included in the first round of TPP?
A: We did our best, but we will not be participating in the first round. Yet the first round has not yet finished, because of the US mid-term elections. Multilateral talks will resume next year.
When nations sign free trade agreements, it is primarily for economic reasons. There are, of course, political implications. For the Republic of China, political interference is greater [than that affecting other countries]. We do not enjoy diplomatic ties with our main trading partners. When we want to trade with them, it's fine, but when we seek an FTA, they hesitate for fear that mainland China will oppose it. This is one reason few countries were, in the past, willing to sign FTAs with us.
After I took office, we signed the Cross-Straits Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with our largest trading partner—mainland China. Since then, we have signed an investment agreement with Japan, an economic cooperation agreement with New Zealand, and an economic partnership agreement with Singapore. We hope to sign similar agreements with our main trading partners in Asia and Europe by simultaneously contacting many countries and negotiating accords with them one by one.
We realize that this will not be easy, because there will always be politically motivated interference.
Q. I'd like to ask about the fishing agreement with Japan surrounding Diaoyu Islands and the waters there. Has that eased tensions, and was that agreement something you discussed with Beijing beforehand?
A: Last April 10, we signed the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement following about five months of negotiations. But prior to this, we had been in talks for 17 years. So it was in the 17th round of talks that we signed this agreement. Five rounds were held under President Lee Teng-hui, and 10 under President Chen Shui-bian. After I took office, we held the 16th round, but discovered that this manner of negotiating got us nowhere—it was meaningless and a waste of time. So we changed our approaches.
Coincidentally, the situation concerning the Diaoyutai Islands changed about this time. The result of Japan's nationalization of the islands aroused opposition among the people of both Taiwan and mainland China. At this time, I proposed the East China Sea Peace Initiative, concerned that should increased tensions lead to regional conflict, this would be extremely detrimental to the engine of global economic growth. It would not only affect Asian nations. I proposed the initiative on August 5, 2012. Japan responded in November, stating that they were willing to talk with us about this issue, and within five months, we had an agreement. In the year before we signed, we had 17 clashes over fishing rights, sometimes leading to standoffs between our nations' respective coast guards. Since the agreement's signing, there has been but one, for which there was no standoff and which was resolved quickly. So that's the political implication.
Economically, both sides have enjoyed larger catches, especially of high-quality fish like bluefin tuna. This has been beneficial to the fishermen of both sides. So we have achieved both peace and prosperity. We have set sovereignty questions aside, not allowing these to hinder resource development and relevant negotiations.
Q. Do you see any possibility in reaching a similar arrangement with mainland China?
A: Fishery issues with mainland China have been raised since I took office, since fishermen from mainland China often come to fish in Taiwan's waters. Sometimes we escort them back here for punishment, and sometimes we fine them. Fines in one year can reach NT$30 million (approx. US$1 million), so the amount is great. However, the mainland has been reluctant to discuss a fisheries agreement with us because they are worried that if they hold such talks with us, it would involve setting boundary lines and that might lead to misunderstandings by outsiders, such as that the two parties were two countries. So there has not been much progress on this issue so far. But in terms of carrying out protection of fishermen or cracking down on illegal fishing, Taiwan has consistently been very active and we are continuing to do so right up to the present. Thus, we have not yet conducted negotiations on a fisheries agreement with mainland China.
However, the thinking in the East China Sea Peace Initiative, which I proposed, is that the three parties—mainland China, Japan, and Taiwan—could split up to conduct three sets of parallel bilateral dialogues: Japan-mainland China, mainland China-Taiwan, and Taiwan-Japan, to carry out negotiations on various issues involving marine issues. These could include fisheries development, oil and natural gas exploration, and sea rescue cooperation. We have worked with mainland China on sea rescue for years. In addition, there could be other non-conventional security issues, such as marine science research and marine environmental protection. So there is great potential for cooperation.
At present, Japan and mainland China, as well as Taiwan and Japan, have concluded separate fisheries agreements. In addition, we have carried out sea rescue exercises with mainland China for many years. All these developments are positive. Perhaps we can step by step build three bilateral mechanisms; then, if conditions are appropriate, it could perhaps become one trilateral mechanism.
Q. Do you expect in the near future to deal with the Philippines on judicial cooperation in the Bashi Strait? And can that be the beginning of a broader cooperation with the Philippines on maritime issues?
A: We began discussing that issue with the Philippines last year. In fact, talks are nearing completion. In other words, the two sides shall sign an agreement. However, ahead of the signing, we have reached three points of consensus and are implementing them. The first is that neither party may use force. The second is that before any law enforcement action, the two sides must notify each other. Third, if any personnel are arrested or vessels detained, they shall be released as soon as possible. These three points of consensus are already being carried out by both the Philippines and Taiwan. So, what remains is to sign an agreement pertaining to law enforcement. Signing a fisheries agreement would be very difficult, as it involves constitutional considerations on the Philippine side, so this is still under study.
Both parties reached consensus on these points last year, although we have yet to sign an agreement; nevertheless, only one point of contention remains. The closest distance between the Philippines and Taiwan is less than 200 nautical miles. If both sides were to demarcate their respective EEZs, there would be an overlap of over 100 nautical miles. Under such conditions, this sort of a law enforcement agreement will help reduce causes of dispute. However, looking at the long term, attaining a fisheries agreement will require much more time and effort.
In 1898, the United States fought a war with Spain over the Philippines. After the US won, the Treaty of Peace Between the United States and Spain ceded sovereignty over the Philippines to the US. However, since there are more than 7,000 Philippine islands, it was difficult to clearly demarcate the area. So they just used latitude and longitude to roughly demarcate this area. However, after the Philippines gained independence in 1946, it regarded all of the area within the latitude and longitude coordinates as its offshore waters. Some of the islands within this area are more than 100 nautical miles from the boundary lines. Under such conditions, it is easy for our fishing vessels to inadvertently enter what the Philippines sees as its territorial waters. Since this is stipulated by the constitution of the Philippines, it is difficult for them to deal with this issue. Before these issues are resolved, it will be difficult to sign a fisheries agreement.
The Philippines often complains that our fishermen transgress their borders to fish, entering their territorial waters or EEZ. So, after we reached consensus, we have repeatedly told our fishermen that if they operate legally, we will protect them. However, if they enter the territorial waters of the Philippines, we cannot do so. Thus, our policy for the protection of fishermen is to "protect fishing, not wrongdoing."
Q. Given that the consensus with the Philippines and the agreement with Japan seem to be reducing tensions in those directions, do you want Taiwan to play a greater role in the South China Sea, particularly with regard to the Philippines' claims, but also even Malaysia and Vietnam, and particularly given that the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China have the same historical antecedents for their respective claims?
A: Our efforts to take part in regional peace initiatives have all encountered the same difficulty. On the one hand, Taiwan does not have formal diplomatic relations with these countries, so contact between the two sides elicits concerns from mainland China. Second, Beijing hopes we will not be involved in international situations such as South China Sea controversies. This has led us to encounter difficulties in playing an active role. However, in fact, the Republic of China is a peace-loving nation, and up to the present, we have troops stationed on the largest island in the South China Sea. In 1947, the Republic of China published a map of its territories in the South China Sea, so our claim is very clear. Therefore, we continue to seek participation in discussions involving the South China Sea, in hope of acting as a facilitator of peace, since, at the least, all countries should be able to support freedom of navigation, freedom of overflight and the use of peaceful means to resolve disputes. We feel that although the East China Peace Initiative applies to the East China Sea area, many of its basic principles also can be applied to the South China Sea. The most important of these concepts in the East China Sea Peace Initiative that I've mentioned is that sovereignty and resource development issues can be decoupled.
There is a basic principle in the law of the sea, that land dominates the sea. Thus marine claims begin with land; however, even if it is logically this way, when resolving disputes, it is not impossible to first resolve resource development issues. If we think back to the past, sovereignty is indivisible, but resources can be shared. In fact, in many areas of the world there is already a similar kind of development, including Europe's North Sea, which in the 1960s and 1970s was an area of dispute, but once they realized that continuing to dispute would never produce results, they changed to cooperation. Joint development of resources resulted in the emergence of an important brand on the international oil market, Brent Crude.
In the East China Sea, we are in fact following this kind of logic. When we signed the fisheries agreement with Japan, we did not abandon our sovereignty claim. We regard the Diaoyutais as territory of the Republic of China, and offshore islands appertaining to Taiwan. This stance has never changed. However, in the fourth article of the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement, it says that the actions or measures adopted by both parties under this agreement do not affect our rights and interests under the law of the sea. By using this approach to shelve our disputes temporarily, the problem became smaller, not larger. Following this sort of resolution, in the future, if there is the opportunity, we can still explore issues pertaining to sovereignty; otherwise, we can explore other issues of resource development, such as oil and gas, or other newly discovered resources that I just mentioned. If the South China Sea issues can be approached from this angle, perhaps solutions can be found to some of them.
Q. Taiwan has expressed interest in developing its own submarines. How important is that to Taiwan? And if you go ahead with developing your own submarines, would you rely on technology from the US and do you expect to get that?
A: As a matter of fact, before 2001, we presented a procurement list for diesel-powered submarines to the US. In the same year, the US approved our proposal, but because it had stopped developing diesel-powered submarines in the 1950s and now manufactures only nuclear-powered ones, it was unable to supply us with the items we wanted. It has also been difficult to purchase them from other countries. This has led to a long delay. The four submarines we have are old and outdated; for example, the Guppy-class submarines we purchased in the 1970s have been in service for almost 70 years. These need to be replaced. We will continue with our indigenous submarine program; of course, we will need to rely on technologies from other countries.
Q. Where does that stand? I understand that you have formal requests to the United States. Have you received any reply on obtaining submarine technology that would allow you to build subs in your own shipyards?
A: We are still discussing this issue with the United States. With our current shipbuilding technology, we can build gunships, frigates, and even 4,000- to 5,000-ton vessels. But the technology needed for building submarines is different. We will continue to discuss how we could engage the US in technological cooperation.
Q. Is there a formal recent request you made? I have heard different versions on this, a formal recent request for submarine technology that you would build into vessels that would actually be assembled in Taiwanese shipyards. Or was it not an actual recent formal request for a specific technology that would allow you to do this at all?
A: Making a formal request should be the last step. It should be made only after we have confirmed that the technology can be transferred. That would mainly be a formality. The most important thing is whether we can obtain the key submarine technology. We will continue to work on this, and once we succeed, we will make a request. However, the US already gave its approval in 2001.
Q. Taiwanese companies have conspicuously not been punished in recent months as China has confronted multinationals from the United States, Europe, and Japan, accusing them of offenses like breaking anti-monopoly laws. Is this because Taiwan has any understanding with China that they are not going after your companies, that you are somehow exempt from the economic nationalism because they see you as part of China? Why is it that Taiwanese companies seem to have this exemption from the current crackdown on foreign companies, more broadly, in China?
A: Taiwan and mainland China are both members of the World Trade Organization. We enjoy the same rights and obligations. We do not receive special privileges because we are closer geographically or speak the same language. We don't as far as I know.
You just mentioned anti-monopoly laws. Could it be because Taiwan's businesses are not so large and therefore are less likely to violate these laws? I am not sure about that.
Q. Do you foresee a way to address the pork issue with the United States such that you can get a bilateral investment agreement done with the United States before you leave office?
A: We have resumed negotiations with the United States under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement signed in 1994. Regarding the pork issue, when we were discussing opening up the market to US beef two years ago, the American Institute in Taiwan told us clearly that beef and pork imports could be discussed separately. When we first communicated this to our people, the first principle we observed was that the importation of beef and pork would be considered separate issues. Taiwan consumes a far lower amount of beef than pork. Our pork consumption is very high, especially of offal. The use of ractopamine results in higher residual levels in internal organs. We are more concerned about this. This is why we have not agreed to allow pork imports containing ractopamine.
With regard to beef, after many rounds of negotiations with the US, we now permit the import of beef with a maximum residue limit of 10 ppb. This problem has now been resolved. The US said two years ago that beef and pork imports could be discussed separately, and we have proceeded accordingly. Therefore, the two sides will need to conduct further discussions on this issue.
Second, pork accounts for a very small proportion of US exports to the ROC. We have opened our market to US pork. The only restriction is that pork containing ractopamine is not allowed. US pork exports, whether to Russia, the European Union, or mainland China, do not contain ractopamine. Taiwan imports a very small volume of US pork, far less than Russia, the EU, or mainland China. We see no reason why pork exported to Taiwan cannot be ractopamine-free. We do not think that this is a big issue. It should not impede our negotiations with the US on a number of other issues, especially a bilateral investment agreement. Otherwise it would be a shame because US exports very little pork to Taiwan. I do not think that the slogan we now hear—no pork, no talks—is very wise.
Q. Do you have any concern that Taiwan's ever-growing economic ties to the mainland, and now that mainland China has passed the United States as the biggest trading partner of Taiwan, mean that Taiwan is losing its political and security flexibility, that it is becoming too dependent on China economically?
A: Some people have indeed been discussing recently whether Taiwan is too dependent on the mainland Chinese economy. We must first examine what dependence and over-dependence mean. For example, in 2000, mainland China (including Hong Kong) accounted for 24 percent of Taiwan's total exports. Before I took office in 2008, our exports to the mainland had risen to a 40-percent share. People thought that this figure would continue to increase. But the reverse has happened. From last year to September of this year, 39 percent of Taiwan's exports were shipped to mainland China. The figure did not increase but instead decreased. An important reason is that we have diversified our export markets. For example, our exports to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations grew from a 12-percent to 15-percent share, and have now reached 19 percent. This shows a consistently upward trend.
Mainland China is the largest trading partner of 17 of its 23 neighboring countries. Their bilateral trade values are extremely high because mainland China is the world's second-largest economy and largest exporter. We can take a look at US relations with Canada and Mexico. The three countries have formed a North American Free Trade Area. About 75 percent of Mexican and Canadian exports are destined for the US, while the US supplies about 50 percent of their respective total imports. Therefore, their bilateral trade dependence is 65 percent, which is far higher than that in cross-strait trade. Some people might say that US relations with Canada and Mexico are different from cross-strait ties. Their political relations are certainly different. Economically, however, the countries are located in close proximity, share similar cultures and ethnic backgrounds, as well as close relations. That they would have a large trade volume is inevitable. If mainland China were to account for only 10 percent of our total trade and the US, 50 percent, it would be [almost] impossible economically. However, this happened before. I remember when I had just returned from the US, around 1981 to 1988, half or more than half of Taiwan's exports were destined for the US. Our trade with mainland China and other countries gradually became more balanced. Things change. Judging from the present situation, we have not yet become over-dependent on mainland China. Our trade with the mainland has indeed continued to increase, but its share of total trade has decreased. The present situation warrants our attention but does not call for excessive anxiety.
Q. Going back to your support for democracy in Hong Kong, Taiwan had protests earlier this year. Many people pointed out similarities between the two. While the details are different, the fundamental issue concerns the influence of China. But you were also critical of the protests here. Do you see any contradiction in your standpoint, or do you see any similarities or differences between the two protest movements?
A: You asked whether there is any contradiction in my standpoint on the Hong Kong and Taiwan protests—there is absolutely no contradiction, as I support democracy, but oppose violence. With regard to the student movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, there are two similarities and two differences. As for similarities, the two movements were both dominated by students, and students in both places demonstrated great enthusiasm. However, the goals of the two movements are different. In Hong Kong, the aim is universal suffrage, in other words, demanding democracy. In Taiwan, the movement opposed our mainland China policy, objecting to a public policy. Democracy, which people in Hong Kong are pursuing, already exists in Taiwan. The second difference is the reaction of the authorities. We are a democratic nation, and concerns raised by the public will be examined and responded to. For example, on the first day of the protests here, students demanded that the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement be reviewed and voted on article by article. In fact, the agreement at that time was still before the Legislative Yuan and had not yet been passed. Two days later, the Kuomintang (KMT) party caucus said that it would accept this demand, as this was already the consensus of the two major parties.
After seeing that their first demand had been accepted, they made a second. They called for the establishment of an oversight act for agreements between Taiwan and mainland China. A month prior to this, the KMT party caucus in the Legislative Yuan had reached consensus with the Executive Yuan on creating a four-stage oversight mechanism. On April 3, before the protest movement ended, the Executive Yuan approved a draft of such an act and sent it to the Legislative Yuan. Today, more than six months later, the draft still has not gotten through the legislature.
Meanwhile, the students called for dialogue with the government. On March 22, Premier Jiang walked from the Executive Yuan to the Legislative Yuan, and went among the crowd gathered there for a discussion. But the students said that the trade in services agreement should first be withdrawn before they would engage in dialogue. As far as I know, this was the first time that the highest-ranking official of the executive branch of the ROC government went into a group of protesters to discuss their demands—it was really quite something. However, he was rejected, and walked back to the Executive Yuan. Even though the students requested dialogue with government officials, when a government official came to talk with them, he was turned away.
The next day, I held a press conference explaining the government's position. On March 25, I came out and said that I was willing to exchange views with students at the Office of the President. Such a meeting would be public and could have been broadcast on television. In total, I issued an invitation for dialogue seven times, but each time, the students put forward reasons for not wanting to meet with me. For example, if we were to meet, they said, I could not request that the KMT party caucus in the Legislative Yuan exercise party discipline. They also said that a meeting should not be held in the Office of the President, but on Kaitakelan Boulevard. I wonder how things are in other countries, but I, as president, extended seven invitations to speak with students, and though these were all rejected, I believe we did our part as a responsive government.
In fact, we met most of their demands, except for withdrawing the trade in services agreement and renegotiating it. We could not have agreed to that demand. Doing so would be unacceptable in the international arena. If we had done so, the international community would regard us as an unreliable trade partner, which would then affect our ability to sign similar agreements with other countries. So I have mentioned two differences, which are the goals of the protests as well as the responses of the respective governments. The students fundamentally disagree with our mainland China policy. In fact, our mainland China policy has had the support of a large majority of our people. They [the protesters] believe that the trade in services agreement is a black box accord, but in fact, before being sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation, it was handled with the highest degree of transparency since constitutional rule was instituted in the ROC.
Before the agreement was signed by the two sides on June 21 of last year, the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) held 110 rounds of consultations with 264 representatives from 46 service-economy sectors. For each of these there is a record. In addition, before the agreement was sent to the Legislative Yuan, three formal reports were made to relevant committees of the Legislative Yuan. After it was sent to the Legislative Yuan, the MOEA held more than 140 large-scale seminars, which were attended by more than 7,900 people. In March of this year, before the legislative review had started, 20 public hearings were held. Since the ROC Legislative Yuan was established, no bill has been afforded this much time or deliberation. Nevertheless, it still is regarded as a black box process. With the agreement having already entered the Legislative Yuan, and with so many public hearings having been organized, how can it still be regarded as not transparent? The key point is that they [the opposition] do not want this bill to be reviewed [by the Legislative Yuan]. They want to block it from moving forward.
In Western democracies, if the opposition wants to block a bill from moving forward, a filibuster is often the tactic used. A lawmaker proposing such a filibuster must speak uninterrupted for more than 10 hours to achieve his goal. I think the longest I have heard of was more than 23 hours. In our legislature, the opposition can simply use violence to occupy the speaker's podium and stop proceedings. In the current session of the legislature, we have already witnessed more than ninety such instances. They do not want us to sign the trade in services agreement with mainland China. However, this will greatly harm Taiwan's development. The number of countries that have signed free trade agreements with us is limited, hurting our competitiveness. In addition, the service sector in mainland China is not as developed as ours, and entering the mainland China market would present great opportunities for Taiwan's service industry.
Economists in Taiwan believe that as a result of the trade in services agreement, our service exports to mainland China will grow by 37 percent, while mainland Chinese service exports to Taiwan will only increase by nine percent. The agreement will thus be more beneficial to Taiwan. This is why we believe that the agreement should still be passed. This year we are holding elections, so the current session of the Legislative Yuan is relatively short. However, we hope that both the governing and opposition parties are aware of the international challenges that Taiwan faces. Regardless of which party is in power, these challenges will have to be met. Blocking the agreement will only result in lowering Taiwan's competitive standing. That is why The Wall Street Journal published an editorial entitled "Taiwan leaves itself behind."
I want to emphasize again that regarding the protest movements in Hong Kong and Taiwan, we welcome democracy, but oppose violence. No democratic country can allow its legislature or executive government agencies to be occupied by anyone, including students. That's violence, not democracy.

【Source: Office of the President】