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Sep 07, 2012, No. 075

  • Date:2012-09-07

Lai Shin-yuan: Promoting peace in the Taiwan Strait with institutionalized negotiations and steering cross-strait relations with Taiwan's core values September 7, 2012 MAC Press Release No. 75 Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan attended the international conference on "Globalization-Security Linkages" held by the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London on September 7, 2012 (London time), at which she presented a keynote speech on "Promoting peace in the Taiwan Strait with institutionalized negotiations, and steering cross-strait relations with Taiwan's core values." Minister Lai emphasized in her speech that since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May 2008, the government of the Republic of China (ROC) has pragmatically faced cross-strait relations and seized this historical opportunity to resume institutionalized negotiations between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS). Over the past more than four years, the SEF and ARATS have held eight rounds of high-level talks, signed 18 agreements, and issued two consensuses, making positive and active contributions to the welfare of the people on both sides of the Strait. Cross-strait relations have therefore been ushered into a historical new era, and a solid foundation for regional peace in East Asia has been laid. Minister Lai particularly stressed that, in October 2011, President Ma put forward, in his "Golden Decade, National Visions: Cross-Strait Peace" blueprint for future developments of the ROC, the view that Taiwan has the responsibility to steer benign cross-strait development with its core values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. Through in-depth exchanges between the two sides, including Mainland tourists’ visiting Taiwan, Mainland students’ studying in Taiwan, and Mainland missions' coming to Taiwan for election observation, Taiwan's democratic experience is gradually becoming a key force in driving benign cross-strait relations. By promoting President Ma's Mainland policy, Taiwan is using her way of life and democratic system to interact with a changing mainland China. Taiwan's experience and values of democratic reforms provide an important reference template for political, social and economic transformation in the Mainland. During her speech, Minister Lai briefly introduced the results of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations over the past more than four years. Taking the example of allowing Mainland tourists to Taiwan, she illustrated how the correctness of the government's Mainland policy direction has greatly improved the people’s well-being. She said that, in the period since Taiwan began allowing Mainland residents to travel to Taiwan in July 2008, to the end of July 2012, over 41.4 million Mainlanders have visited Taiwan for tourism, generating an estimated US$7 billion in foreign exchange revenue for Taiwan's tourism industry. Minister Lai compared this figure to the revenue generated by the London Olympics, which UK Secretary of State for Culture Jeremy Hunt stated a few days ago of US$3.2 billion for Britain's tourism industry in the coming years. By comparison, Taiwan has earned US$7 billion through its Mainland policy of opening up to Mainland tourists while Britain has invested US$14.8 billion to host the Games and would enjoy a US$3.2 billion benefit later. Minister Lai also said that the cross-strait and international situations over the past four years have not exactly been smooth sailing. However, being a responsible stakeholder in this tumultuous international environment, Taiwan has firmly played the role of peacemaker. The government has not only defended the sovereignty of the ROC and protected the rights and interests of Taiwanese People, it has also promoted cross-strait rapprochement and contributed to peace in the Taiwan Strait, the Asia-Pacific region, and even the world. Having taken this correct path for more than four years, the ROC government will continue to march forward steadily so as to create favorable to Taiwan's sustainable development. The speech today was attended by over 100 officials and scholars from Britain, the United States, continental Europe, and Asia, including officials of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London-based officials of other countries, and members of European think tanks. Minister Lai attended the event by Taiwan's representative in Britain, Ambassador Shen Lyushun. The speech was followed by an enthusiastic Q&A session and discussion. Minister Lai answered each question with succinct explanations on the government's position, bringing the event to an end.