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President Ma Meets Negotiation Delegation from Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation

President Ma Meets Negotiation Delegation from Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation


April 24, 2009


President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of April 24 with Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and members of an SEF delegation who are heading to mainland China to negotiate with its cross-strait counterpart. Meeting at the Presidential Office, President Ma affirmed the achievements of the SEF in its meetings with mainland China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) over the past 11 months, and expressed his hopes that members of the SEF will continue their efforts to open a new chapter in relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

President Ma noted that he served as Deputy Minister of the Mainland Affairs Council over a decade ago. At the time, a systematic cross-strait negotiation mechanism had already been mapped out. This consisted of first having persons from various levels engage in discussions, and then creating a network for interaction starting with a specific point and gradually expanding to cover a broader spectrum, thereby progressively promoting the cross-strait relationship. The president said that it was unfortunate that this mechanism fell into disuse over the previous decade, with the result that Taiwan lost out on many important opportunities.

The president stressed that the government is not engaging in wishful thinking. Rather, it is promoting its cross-strait policies with the principle of "putting Taiwan first for the benefit of the people," and the government's strategies are well thought-out, he said. President Ma said the government will absolutely not sacrifice Taiwan's sovereignty or sell out Taiwan's interests in any respect. He said he is confident that the government's efforts in this regard will stand up to scrutiny.

President Ma commented that Taiwan is a democratic nation. No individual or group of persons can sell out Taiwan, he said, adding that the so-called "betrayal of Taiwan" is an expression based on a way of thinking from 20 or 30 years ago. The president said his administration has carefully considered what is in Taiwan's best interest at every step in negotiations. For instance, he said that it is expected that the topics of cross-strait crime fighting and judicial cooperation will be discussed at the third meeting between SEF Chairman Chiang and ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin. Both sides hope that criminals are unable to escape from the law and want to work together to combat crime. In addition, the president said that he is confident that the signing of a memorandum of understanding on supervision of cross-strait financial dealings will yield benefits for both sides.

With regards to the topic of an economic cooperation framework agreement, President Ma said he hopes that members of the SEF will engage in dialogue and exchange opinions with their counterparts so that a preliminary consensus can be reached. President Ma expressed his confidence that this will pave the way for continued progress and will benefit relations between the two sides.

President Ma commented that the Legislative Yuan previously passed the first reading of amendments to the Act Governing Relations between Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, and he hopes that revision to the Act will ensure that spouses from mainland China receive the attention they require upon coming to Taiwan. They have not always received adequate attention in the past, so this problem is being tackled as a matter of human rights, humanitarian concern, as well as national security, he said.

President Ma furthermore said that the government's focus is on the entire world, not just mainland China. While some people have expressed the viewpoint that the government is only opening up to mainland China, the president responded that Taiwan has lost too many opportunities over the previous eight years. The government must catch up to the rest of the world in the shortest time possible, he said. Otherwise, continuation of a closed-door policy would without a doubt lead to a dead end for Taiwan. This is especially the case since mainland China has already become the world's third largest economy. Taiwan, on the other hand, is only a small island nation. It is unable to rely solely on domestic consumption and must increase its dealings with the rest of the world, he said.

President Ma expressed his hopes that related government agencies will do their utmost to strengthen communication with various circles here, fully explaining the administration's cross-strait policies and helping to reconcile any unnecessary doubts.

Lastly, President Ma praised the efforts and contributions made by SEF Chairman Chiang and all the people who are taking part in the negotiations for successfully establishing a basis for mutual trust between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait and creating a framework for communication, thereby gradually leading to the improvement of cross-strait relations. This is also helping to concurrently improve relations with the United States, Europe and other nations, creating a win-win situation for all involved. Former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Winston Lord also has expressed his feelings that relations between Taiwan, the United States and China are the strongest they have been in the last 60 years. This demonstrates that the approach of the current administration is in line with the wishes of society, he said. President Ma said he hopes staff at the SEC and the Mainland Affairs Council will continue with their good work, so that Taiwan can continue moving toward a brighter future.

【Source: Office of the President】