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Sep 08, 2011, No. 067

  • Date:2011-09-08

Lai Shin-yuan: President Ma's strong commitment to convictions and principles, together with his real capability to carry out policies, has made the ROC government a force for stability in promoting cross-strait relations

 Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan presented a keynote speech on "Taiwan's Cross-Strait Policy: Building an Irreversible Foundation for Peace" at an international symposium held by Chatham House, the U.K.-based Royal Institute of International Affairs on September 8 (London time). In her speech, Minister Lai emphasized that President Ma Ying-jeou's strong commitment to convictions and principles, together with his real capability to carry out policies, has made the ROC government a force for stability in promoting cross-strait relations, leading the people in the right direction, gaining understanding and support from international allies, and gradually generating mutual trust with mainland China, therefore creating conditions for peace, stability and development. If the principles and propositions of the government in promoting cross-strait relations were to be overturned, cross-strait relations would inevitably plunge into a state of uncertainty, which would strike a huge blow against both cross-strait and regional development and would cause an especially heavy impact on Taiwan. Minister Lai compared cross-strait relations to the United Kingdom's Northern Ireland issue. She cited the words of the late Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Mo Mowlam to highlight the value of institutionalized cross-strait negotiations. Minister Lai stated that Ms. Mowlam believed that difficulties sprang up when Britain and Ireland ceased cooperation, but the peace process could progress very rapidly when the two sides cooperated. In the same way, the key to the problem in cross-strait relations is how to get the governments of the two sides to sit down to talk.

 The Royal Institute of International Affairs, commonly known as Chatham House (from the name of its international headquarter building), is one of the world's leading think tanks for researching international affairs. Chatham House is often used as a venue for UK political leaders to announce important policy concepts and have dialogues with think tank scholars. Over 100 scholars from the U.K., the United States, continental Europe, and Asia participated in the symposium. Chatham House Chairman Dr. DeAnne Julius welcomed Minister Lai in person at the main gate of the Royal Institute of International Affairs headquarters and attended the speech as the introducer. In her introduction, Dr. Julius stated that the success of Taiwan’s Mainland policy has made President Ma an important national leader in international political circles, raising enormous interests of the world in this historic achievement. In the question and answer session after the speech, the participants enthusiastically asked questions, resulting in the activity’s lasting longer than the scheduled time.

 In her speech, Minister Lai stated that the 15 agreements signed between the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) over the past three years have contributed greatly to the welfare of the people on both sides of the Strait as well as to the benign development of cross-strait relations, especially the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in June last year. The implementation of the Early Harvest list has created concrete and substantial results, putting into practice President Ma's stipulation of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people" as the highest guiding principle of cross-strait policy. Minister Lai emphasized that President Ma considers Taiwan's long-term interests and development without any compromise or backing down, and he has earned the people's support with the results of concrete actions. As a national leader, he is humble and responsible when facing the people of Taiwan, but pragmatic and strategic when facing the Mainland. In seeking to improve relations with mainland China, he has been able to safeguard Taiwan's identity and defend the sovereignty of the ROC, showing true boldness and charm. Minister Lai also stated that cross-strait issues are extremely contentious in Taiwan's highly democratized society, and the people are easily torn apart by different opinions. Some politicians have sought to manufacture issues to create national divisions; however, President Ma has brought the country closer together.

 Minister Lai quoted President Ma’s words in her speech, emphasizing that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should take a pragmatic approach of mutual non-denial and make it the foundation for promoting cross-strait relations. Minister Lai said that "mutual non-denial" is a unique concept that has been compiled by professors Lori Damrosch, Louis Henkin, and others into the latest edition of International Law, Cases and Materials (5th ed.) as a significant citation in the examination of sovereignty. This illustrates that the achievements created by institutionalized cross-strait negotiations have captured the attention of the international community and serve as an important example.
Minister Lai concluded that President Ma's Mainland policy is the right path that matches the wishes of the Taiwan people. The government of the ROC will resolutely follow this path until an irreversible and solid foundation for cross-strait peace has been established.