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Opening remarks by President Ma Ying-jeou at an international press conference following his meeting with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping

  • Date:2015-11-09

November 7, 2015

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In my meeting with Mr. Xi, we exchanged views on cross-strait relations, peaceful development and the consolidation of peace, and the status quo of prosperity. You must all be concerned about the atmosphere at the meeting. The meeting took place in a frank and very positive atmosphere. I found Mr. Xi to be pragmatic, flexible, and candid when discussing the issues. We hope that this spirit will be reflected in the handling of cross-strait relations.

Our discussions focused on several points. The first point is the consolidation of the 1992 Consensus and the maintenance of peace across the Taiwan Strait. I told Mr. Xi that the consensus reached between the two sides in November 1992 was that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait insist on “one China,” but differ as to what that means, and each side could express its interpretation verbally. This was the 1992 Consensus of “one China, respective interpretations.” The ROC’s interpretation does not involve two Chinas; one China, one Taiwan; or Taiwan independence, as the Republic of China Constitution does not allow it. I also emphasized that sustainable peace and prosperity should be the common goal in the development of cross-strait relations. We will continue to consolidate the 1992 Consensus of “one China, respective interpretations” as the basis for relations, and maintain the status quo of peace and prosperity.

The second point is the reduction of hostility and peaceful handling of disputes. We told Mr. Xi that the people of Taiwan are especially concerned about security and dignity. We wanted Mr. Xi and mainland China to understand that we hope all disputes, whether they be political, military, social, cultural, legal, or of any other form, can be peacefully resolved, allowing both sides to experience mutual good will. I made special mention of the frustrations our people have had when participating in NGO activities, as well as the interventions our government has faced when taking part in regional economic integration and other international activities. We hope to see a reduction of hostility in these areas, especially with regard to our NGOs. I told Mr. Xi that these organizations comprise elite members and specialists, who have reacted quite strongly to these issues and the treatment they received. We hope there will be fewer such occurrences.

In response, Mr. Xi said he hopes these issues will be appropriately handled case by case.

I also stated that many people of Taiwan are concerned about mainland China’s military deployments against Taiwan, including the Zhurihe base with which we are all familiar and where missiles are deployed. Mr. Xi said that these deployments are in principle not targeted at Taiwan.

The third point is the expansion of cross-strait exchanges and mutual benefits. We emphasized that given the fact that Taiwan and mainland China have different social and economic systems, the two sides need sufficient time to engage in deeper exchanges. We also reiterated Taiwan’s interest in participating in regional economic integration. The issue of which side joins first and which side later should not arise. Mr. Xi expressed willingness to discuss this issue and welcomed our participation in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and mainland China’s “one belt, one road” initiative.

The fourth point is the establishment of a cross-strait hotline. We believe that a hotline can be set up between the Mainland Affairs Council Minister and the Taiwan Affairs Office Minister, who can then exchange views on important or urgent issues. Mr. Xi stated that this matter could be promptly dealt with.

With regards to cultural and educational exchanges, I also expressed the hope that mainland China can allow more vocational college graduates to pursue higher education in Taiwan. I noted that our efforts over the past several years have met with limited success. As we from Taiwan know, our polytechnic universities have a shortage of students. I drew attention to the fact that Vietnam, Thailand, India, and Indonesia have been funding graduate studies by university lecturers at polytechnic institutes in Taiwan. We welcome these students. Before I took office, we had about 30,000 students from overseas studying in Taiwan. This year, the figure has increased to above 100,000. We intend to transform Taiwan into an Asia-Pacific center for higher education. I mentioned that mainland China has over a million vocational college graduates. Mr. Xi said he is willing to look into this matter. The vocational college graduates I refer to are like graduates from five-year junior colleges in Taiwan who then enroll in two-year programs at polytechnic colleges.

The fifth and final point is joint cooperation for cross-strait prosperity. I suggested that history has left behind several issues that the two sides cannot resolve overnight. These issues must be handled pragmatically. If we deal rashly with some of the excessively sensitive issues, it will make things worse. The maintenance of cross-strait peace and stability is Taiwan’s mainstream view. How cross-strait relations develop in the future will have to take into account the direction of public opinion. In particular, I reiterated that cross-strait relations should be built on the foundation of dignity, respect, sincerity, and good will, for only then can we shorten the psychological gap between the two sides.

I especially expressed the hope that the two sides can turn hostility into friendship and seek peace, not war.