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President Ma meets delegation from National Committee on American Foreign Policy

President Ma Ying-jeou on the morning of October 19 met with a delegation from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy and during the meeting reiterated his recently aired statement that the ROC could in the next decade carefully consider whether to hold discussions on a "cross-strait peace agreement" with mainland China if the following three conditions are met: 1) such an agreement would have to be necessary to the ROC; 2) it would have to be supported by the public; and 3) the entire process would have to be subject to oversight by the national legislature. The government, the president said, will continue to resolutely uphold the principles of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force," as well as the "1992 Consensus—one China, respective interpretations" in promoting cross-strait relations.
The president remarked that recently during a press conference he held to introduce the "Golden Decade, National Visions" blueprint, he specially pointed out the three pre-conditions that would need to be met before Taiwan, in the next decade, would give careful consideration to whether it should engage in negotiations with mainland China on a peace agreement. In other words, he said, the government will continue to embrace the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people" and also seek to establish a high degree of mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait with "equality, dignity, and reciprocity" serving as the foundation. In addition, such a peace agreement would not be discussed unless it is wanted by the region and the international community. President Ma said that some have misinterpreted his remarks on such a peace agreement, believing that he is promoting unification. President Ma emphasized that the signing of a cross-strait peace agreement and the institutionalization of cross-strait rapprochement, which is the first “line of defense for Taiwan,” would constitute two sides of the same coin—both are for the purpose of defending Taiwan’s security. In addition, it its conduct of cross-strait relations, the government will continue to resolutely uphold the important principles of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force," as well as the "1992 Consensus—one China, respective interpretations," he said.
With regard to the recent decision by the United States to help Taiwan upgrade its fleet of F-16A/B fighter jets, the president stated that he is pleased that the United States is still effectively abiding by the “Six Assurances” and the Taiwan Relations Act. He remarked that the ROC deeply appreciates that the United States is willing to sell defense weapons to Taiwan to help it boost its self-defense capability. However, even more important is that the deals are the result of the resumption of mutual trust at the highest levels of government, he explained. The president said that in the future the ROC will continue to express its desire to acquire F-16C/D series fighter jets and diesel electric submarines, adding that he hopes the United States will make a decision as soon as possible that is in the interest of Taiwan. Meanwhile, the president also addressed Taiwan's interest in participating in the US Visa Waiver Program. He said that we have already taken steps requiring individuals applying for passports for the first time to do so in person. In addition, the visa rejection rate among Taiwanese applying for US visas has fallen, thereby increasing the opportunity for Taiwan to be included in the program. The president expressed his hope that Taiwan next year will receive visa-free courtesies from the United States. This will not only boost convenience for the public, but will also bolster the trade and economic relationship between the two countries.
The president stated that positive effects have been felt since Taiwan entered into the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with mainland China. For instance, last year the ROC and Singapore began talks on an economic cooperation agreement. Also, the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement was signed just last month, he said. Even more countries are now willing to invest in Taiwan or develop closer economic relations with the nation. President Ma remarked that this proves, as he has said in the past, that the cross-strait relationship does not have to be one of confrontation. Rather, improvement in cross-strait ties has paved the way for expanded participation by Taiwan in international organizations. This virtuous cycle has been welcomed by the United States, he said. Consequently, the ROC will continue to seek opportunities to participate in the International Civil Aviation Organization and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in order to have more meaningful participation in international activities.
President Ma also mentioned that last month mainland Chinese students formally began coming to Taiwan to study at local universities. In addition, over 6,000 mainland Chinese exchange students come here annually. Both of these initiatives are helping these students to gain a better understanding of Taiwan, he said. The president expressed his hope that more extensive interaction among young people will provide a strong foundation for peace between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. He remarked that he hopes that agreements will be reached on topics of mutual interest later this month at the seventh meeting of the heads of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation and mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, the organizations responsible for carrying out negotiations between the two sides.
The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office in the morning by Deputy Foreign Minister Lyushun Shen (沈呂巡) to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Chih-kung Liu (劉志攻).
【Source: Office of the President】