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Sep 14, 2010, No. 072

  • Date:2010-09-14

MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan delivers a speech at the European Parliament to provide the EU politicians with a first-hand testimony of the fruitful achievements of President Ma's Mainland policy

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Lai Shin-yuan presented a speech to the European Parliament on the topic of "Peace, Democracy and Prosperity: The Utmost Conjunctions of ROC Mainland Policy and EU Development Experience" on the morning of September 14, at the invitation of the European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group. Over 30 European Union (EU) parliamentarians listened to the speech, including European Parliament-Taiwan Friendship Group Chairman and British Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Charles Tannock, Taiwan Friendship Group Deputy Chairman and German MEP Wolfgang Kressl-Dorfler, Taiwan Friendship Group Deputy Chairwoman and Lithuanian MEP Laima Lijcija Andrikiene, Taiwan Friendship Group Deputy Chairman and Dutch MEP Hans van Baalen, and Slovak MEP Edit Bauer. Minister Lai also exchanged views with other participants, including dozens of EU officials and parliament staff.

The MAC stated that the EU occupies a vital position in the world and maintains close economic and trade relations with Taiwan. Their local politicians and think tanks have been paying close attention to the startling changes in cross-strait relations over the past more than two years. Minister Lai's speech served as a first-hand testimony of the fruitful achievements of President Ma's Mainland policy. Minister Lai relayed the messages she had received during her visits with EU politicians. She said that President Ma's Mainland policy has established a fresh and positive image of Taiwan on the world stage—a view jointly conveyed by the EU politicians during this visit. The concrete results achieved by ROC Mainland policy have made President Ma a “shining star” in the international political arena, as well as a symbol and representative of progressive forces in the Chinese and even Asian worlds. This view is shared by many EU officials and MEPs. The MAC stated that the improvement of cross-strait relations has enabled Taiwan to once again rise as a responsible country of weight in the international political arena. The arrangement for Minister Lai to speak to the European Parliament this time best exemplifies the point.

During her speech, Minister Lai indicated that Europe and Asia continents suffered the most terribly during World War II. Cross-strait relations have evolved from war, confrontation, and non-communication to gradual progress of benign interaction. This experience bears similarity to the EU's, but also has its uniqueness. Today's EU and the current relationship across the Taiwan Strait are both concrete models of mankind’s endeavor to avoid conflicts and to turn confrontation into cooperation.

Minister Lai informed the MEPs that the abundant achievements of President Ma's Mainland policy over the past more than two years have earned a positive assessment by a large majority of Taiwan people, with nearly 80 percent of Taiwanese expressing support for solving the problems resulted from cross-strait contact through institutionalized negotiations. Since Taiwan is a democratic society, the course and cadence of the development of cross-strait relations must depend on the support of public opinion. Close to 90 percent of Taiwanese people support “maintaining the status quo”, which is that the Republic of China is a sovereign and independent country. This is not only an established fact but also the consensus of the majority in Taiwan's society. Under this situation, Taiwan's future will only be decided by the democratically and freely exercised choice of its 23 million citizens.

Citing President Ma, Minister Lai stated that in the course of cross-strait contacts, democracy is Taiwan's asset and the most precious soft power. Hence, Taiwan does not fear to deal with mainland China. Taiwan also considers that the restoration of institutionalized cross-strait talks provides mainland China with a practice field for peaceful development, and gives Taiwan the chance to contribute to lasting peace in the Taiwan Strait. Mainland China has made a commitment to the world that its rise will be peaceful, and Taiwan can take the experience of engaging in institutionalized talks with the Mainland over the last two years and say to the world that we place expectation in their commitment.

Minister Lai concluded by saying that within Taiwan, the development of cross-strait relations is still a subject of much contention; within the EU, there are also many fundamental differences and divisions concerning the progress of EU’s integration. In this regard, Taiwan and the EU have many values and ideals in common, and our core values trace an identical line of development. Taiwan can establish channels for policy dialogue and diverse exchanges with the EU and the European Parliament, and join efforts to promote the win-win relationship of democracy and freedom. Taiwan's continuing dialogue with the Mainland serves to promote peace and stability in the East Asian region. This matches the common interests of both sides of the Strait, the European Union, and the international community at large.

In answer to a question raised by Bulgarian MEP Andrey Kovatchev (who also briefed on the visa-free treatment case of the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs), Minister Lai expressed her views on the Mainland's continuous increasing of military deployment against Taiwan. She stated that, in terms of the trajectory of historical development, we know that economic expansion driven by military force always leads to worldwide disaster. Peace is the only solid foundation for economic development, as the process of EU economic integration clearly demonstrates. Since its founding members established the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951, the EU has been constantly developing and evolving. Economically, it has gradually established a single market, issued the Euro, and actively advanced regional cooperation. The main driving forces behind this have been the aspiration to ensure that its skies are never again darkened by the clouds of war and the determination to secure peace and prosperity within the region. As a member of the Pacific economic region, Taiwan is deeply concerned with military expansion by any stakeholders in this region. It is particularly concerned that, as it works hard to lay an irreversible foundation for cross-strait peace and prosperity, the Mainland continues to increase its military deployment against Taiwan. This is ironic in view of the efforts made by both sides to pursue peace, gives the people of Taiwan a very negative feeling, and also affects Taiwan people’s confidence in the government's Mainland policy. The Mainland’s deployment of force against Taiwan is an obstacle to the long-term development of cross-strait relations. Minister Lai further noted that President Ma and herself have emphasized on many occasions in Taiwan and while abroad that the Mainland must remove its forces deployed against Taiwan.

The complete texts of Minister Lai's speech in Chinese and English versions were simultaneously published on the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) website.