Go TO Content

President Ma's Europe Day Dinner Address (excerpt : cross-strait relations)

President Ma's Europe Day Dinner Address (excerpt : cross-strait relations)


May 14, 2009


New Era of Cross-Strait Relations

I would like next to talk about cross-strait relations, which are fundamental to peace and stability not only across the Taiwan Strait, but also regionally and even globally. This is precisely the reason why my administration has put developing constructive cross-strait relations at the core of its policies. Our goal is to shelve disputes, build mutual trust, and abide by the "three Noes" of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force". By improving cross-strait relations, we can develop mutually beneficial cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait for the benefit of people on both sides. Through the three "Chiang-Chen talks", Taiwan and mainland China have so far reached nine agreements on tourism, charter flights, air and sea transportation, postal services, food safety, regular flights, financial cooperation, joint crime-fighting and mutual judicial assistance. These agreements will help facilitate the normalization of cross-strait trade and investment relations. Furthermore, it will make Taiwan a regional springboard to the mainland China market for European businesses, and increase their competitiveness in Asia.

Furthermore, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are set to actively pursue the discussion of a cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). A cross-strait ECFA will help regulate the normalization of trade and investment relations across the Strait, and will encourage foreign companies to do business in Taiwan. Taiwan can thus avoid being marginalized, upgrade its industrial competitiveness, bring its economy up to international standards, and enhance its global standing. This framework agreement will conform to the WTO spirit and will clearly define the scope of cross-strait economic cooperation and subsequently opens the way for negotiations.

Let me stress that through this exercise we will not undermine Taiwan's sovereignty. The rights and interests of the Taiwan people come first and foremost. The simple truth is that Taiwan wants to build solid economic relations with all countries, including mainland China. As such, ECFA will not have a negative impact on Taiwan's other trade partners. Rather, it will bring considerable benefits. Indeed, both ECFA and TEM will raise the global standing and competitiveness of businesses for all three sides.

It is our hope that the new administration's moderate approach to cross-strait relations could be extended to Taiwan's relations, official or otherwise, with all countries. We are doing away with vicious competition in the international arena. Instead, we are taking the initiative in starting a virtuous cycle of cross-strait interaction in the world. This is the essence of "diplomatic truce" and "flexible diplomacy". We will continue to strengthen bonds with our diplomatic allies, while broadening our substantive ties with those with which we don't have diplomatic relations. In addition, we will strive to participate in the activities of specialized international fora, to plug Taiwan in on global issues, and to sign economic and trade agreements with our major trade partners.

Our "flexible diplomacy" has achieved significant results. I would like to take recent developments with the United States and Japan as examples. In October last year, the US agreed to sell arms worth US$6.4 billion dollars to Taiwan. Then, in January this year, the US removed Taiwan from the Special 301 Watch List. In fact, I think it is fair to say that US-Taiwan relations have been completely restored.

With respect to Japan, driver's licenses have been mutually recognized since October last year. We also reached an agreement this February on opening up flights between Taipei's SongShan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, as well as on setting up an emergency notification mechanism for handling fishery disputes. Then, this April, Taiwan and Japan signed an exchange of notes on a Youth Working Holidays Agreement, which will come into effect in June. Furthermore, we have already concluded an exchange notes on the establishment of a representative office in Sapporo, in Japan's Hokkaido Prefecture, and we expect work on this office to commence soon.

In terms of our participation in international organizations, former Vice President Lien Chan attended the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on my behalf last November. The following month, Taiwan acceded to the GPA. Then, this January, the WHO agreed to include Taiwan in the implementation of the International Health Regulations (IHR). Most gratifying of all, however, is the fact that Taiwan is, for the first time, going to attend the World Health Assembly (WHA) this year as an observer under the name of Chinese Taipei. Taiwan began pushing for participation in the WHA in 1997, and our efforts have finally paid off.

These positive results indicate that the development of cross-strait relations will expand, not restrict, Taiwan's involvement in the international community. And as long as our involvement stands up to the principles of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people" and of "equality, dignity and reciprocity", we will continue to strive to participate in all relevant international events and to make practical contributions to the international community.

【Source: Office of the President】