Go TO Content

President Ma meets delegation of visiting American scholars and experts

One day following the conclusion of the election of the 13th-term president and vice president of the ROC and the 8th-term legislators, President Ma Ying-jeou met with a delegation of American experts and scholars visiting Taiwan. The delegation included, among others, US-Taiwan Business Council Chairman Paul D. Wolfowitz and Washington D.C.-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Vice President for Studies Douglas H. Paal. The president reiterated Taiwan's determination to create the conditions necessary to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within the next 10 years, and said he will do everything in his power to continue to defend the sovereignty of the ROC, as well as ensure the security of Taiwan and dignity for its people.
In remarks to the group, the president first expressed his appreciation to the United States, Japan, Canada, Singapore, members of the European Union, and other countries for congratulating Taiwan on successfully holding another free and democratic election. The president mentioned that the congratulatory message from the White House specially emphasized that "Taiwan has proven to be one of the great success stories in Asia." The United States also expressed its support for what has been achieved thanks to the improvement in cross-strait relations, and further stated its hopes that the two sides will continue to boost interaction and contacts. President Ma stated that he was uplifted by the high assessment issued by the United States.
The president stated that over the past three years relations between Taiwan and the United States have grown increasingly close and stable. For instance, he pointed out that in January of 2011 when mainland Chinese leader Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) visited the United States, President Barack Obama specially expressed his support for the signing of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement. At the time, President Obama also called for more frequent talks and contact between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Last November, President Ma said, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivered a speech during the APEC leaders meetings in Hawaii entitled "America's Pacific Century." In the speech, Secretary Clinton specially pointed out the important security and economic partnership between Taiwan and the United States, as well as the extremely strong relationship between the two sides. President Ma noted that this was the clearest description of the relationship between the United States and Taiwan made by a US secretary of state in recent years. Meanwhile, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt M. Campbell in October last year in testimony at a hearing on "Why Taiwan Matters" repeatedly cited the Taiwan Relations Act and the "Six Assurances" to Taiwan in reiterating the pledge by the United States with respect to Taiwan's security. The president said that the people of the ROC are deeply appreciative of these gestures.
With regard to arms sales to Taiwan by the United States, President Ma commented that in September of last year the US administration notified Congress of its decision to sell Taiwan a package of arms valued at US$5.85 billion. He pointed out that this was the third decision by the United States to sell Taiwan defensive weapons during his tenure in office. The aggregate value of the three packages of arms is over US$18.3 billion, which is the highest amount in the past 10 years. In addition, over the past couple of months, United States Agency for International Development Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah and Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman have visited Taiwan, and in December of last year the United States announced that it was including Taiwan as a candidate nation for the US Visa Waiver Program. This move was widely applauded here, he said, adding that entry into the program will help to reduce the time spent by ROC nationals in applying for visas to visit the United States. This step forward is extremely meaningful for the people of Taiwan.
President Ma pointed to the United Kingdom as an example of the benefits to be had from visa-free entry. After the UK began providing visa-free courtesies to ROC nationals, the number of Taiwanese visiting the UK and the amount of trade between Taiwan and the UK have increased markedly. The president expressed his hope that the United States will formally include Taiwan in the Visa Waiver Program in the second half of this year, which would enable relations between the two countries to advance to a new stage. It would also help to spur even faster growth in the number of mutual visits, investment, trade, and educational and cultural exchanges. Entry into the Visa Waiver Program will enable Taiwan-US relations to take another step forward and further strengthen mutual trust at the highest levels between the two sides.
President Ma also mentioned that on January 5 the United States announced its latest defense strategy, which calls for the defense budget to be pared by US$487 billion over the coming 10 years. However, the portion of the existing budget devoted to the Asia-Pacific region will not be impacted. This signifies that the Obama administration places importance on the Asia-Pacific region, the president said, furthermore noting that we warmly welcome this decision.
Commenting on his administration's approach to governance, the president reiterated that over the coming four years he will make every effort to promote reform and bring about major changes in Taiwan. In the economic sphere, his administration hopes to create the necessary conditions to join the TPP within 10 years. President Ma admitted that this is a tough challenge, especially since the present level of economic liberalization here has yet to meet the threshold required to join the TPP. However, he emphasized that the government will create the conditions needed and will not miss this hugely important opportunity to participate in regional economic integration. President Ma also reiterated that in the process of promoting the development of cross-strait relations in the coming four years, he will make every effort to defend the sovereignty of the ROC and the security of Taiwan, as well as ensure dignity for the people of Taiwan.
President Ma told the visitors that during his recent campaign, he noticed that quite a few students from mainland China were witnessing democracy in action here, and they experienced something that they had never seen in mainland China. He said he hopes that exchanges of this sort will enable mainland China to understand that democracy is possible in an ethnic Chinese society and that the degree of democracy seen in Taiwan can be achieved. This constitutes a new direction for the cross-strait relationship. This experience also enables mainlanders to appreciate the value of Taiwan, while at the same time helping Western nations understand the importance of the existence of the ROC on Taiwan, not only in its own right as a democratic and economically prosperous nation, but also for the influence that it can have on mainland China. President Ma stated that while it is impossible at this point to predict the degree of this impact, it undoubtedly exists and will continue to grow in the future.
Lastly, the president expressed his hopes that Taiwan-US relations will continue to move forward. The president called for progress on several bilateral issues, such as Taiwan's desire to acquire F-16C/D fighter jets from the United States, the resolution of US beef imports to Taiwan, and an early resumption of talks under the Taiwan-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, saying that these will be important objectives in his next term of office. Furthermore, the government will continue to strive to participate in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the International Civil Aviation Organization, and other international activities. President Ma expressed his hopes that Taiwan's friends in the United States will continue to lend their support to us in this regard.
The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tung Kuoyu (董國猷) to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Secretary-General Hu Wei-jen (胡為真).
【Source: Office of the President】