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Transcript of May 21, 2008 Presidential Press Conference with President Ma Ying-jeou and Vice President Vincent Siew

Office of the President

Republic of China


GIO Minister Vanessa Shih: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and friends from all over the world. My name is Vanessa Shih. I'm the Minister of the Government Information Office. Welcome to the very first press conference of President Ma Ying-jeou and Vice President Vincent Siew. Before we open the floor to questions, I would like to invite President Ma to say a few words. Mr. President.

President Ma Ying-jeou: Good morning, Vice President Siew, [Presidential Office] Secretary-General Chan, Spokesperson Wang, and our members of the press corps.

First of all, thank you for coming to Taiwan to join in our inaugural celebrations and understand more about this country. As I stated in yesterday's inaugural address, the most important things for me to do are to revitalize the economy, rebuild a clean government, and promote social harmony and cross-strait peace. As for our foreign relations, we will work to renew mutual trust with countries like the United States and to achieve peace and co-prosperity with mainland China by resuming the interrupted negotiations with the mainland on the basis of the '92 consensus. That is what I want to tell you before you pose your questions or make comments. Thank you very much.

Minister Shih: Thank you, Mr. President, for sharing with us your thoughts. Now, we'll open the floor to questions. When you are invited to speak, please wait until the microphone is handed to you, and state your name and organization first. We will appreciate it if you refrain from making long comments and ask one simple question at a time. Thank you very much for your cooperation.

Debby Wu, Associated Press: During your presidential campaign, you have said that there won't be any unification talks between Taiwan and China during your one-term or two-term service as president. And last week, you told my organization that we probably won't see unification during our lifetime. Meanwhile, you have named Miss Lai Shin-yuan, who is a long-time advocate for Taiwan sovereignty, to be the Mainland Affairs Council chairwoman; and in your inaugural address, you have said that China's democratization is the key to easing tension in cross-strait relations. I'm just wondering, whether you are trying to send a message to China, or hardliners in your own party.

President Ma: No matter what we think about the mainland, either as a threat or as an opportunity, I think the mainstream public opinion in Taiwan is that we should have peace with the mainland. I'm sure the mainstream public opinion in mainland China is the same. In other words, whether in Taiwan or the Chinese mainland, we all want to have peace so that we can have peaceful external environment and develop our economies to achieve social harmony. This is the common desire of people across the Taiwan Strait, and I'm sure this will be taken very seriously by the other side of the strait.

Max Hirsch, Kyodo News: As a member of the Japanese press, one of the questions that is looming large for us, following your inaugural speech yesterday, is: Why you didn't mention Japan, a country that figured very prominently in your campaign. You went there in November at the height of the campaign. You spent an unusual amount of time and energy wooing Tokyo and soothing your many critics there. You mentioned the US—that got prominent mention in your speech, but why not Japan? A quick second question is, since Japan wasn't mentioned in the inaugural speech, can you briefly describe for us your plans and hopes for Taiwan-Japan relations?

President Ma: In my inaugural speech, I mentioned the United States, which is in part responsible for the security of Taiwan. We have a very long-standing relationship with this country. I also mentioned, of course, mainland China, which, as I said earlier, could be the greatest threat but also could be the biggest opportunity for Taiwan. There are other countries, like Japan, which are important to Taiwan, and we want to promote even stronger ties with them. I couldn't name all such countries in my inaugural address. But please remember, at noon yesterday, I had lunch with the Japanese delegation, during which I stressed the importance of the bilateral ties between Taiwan and Japan. Actually, I invited several personal friends who are politicians in Japan, like [Mayors] Ishihara of Tokyo and Nakara of Yokohama. I think our actions show how much importance Japan is given in this country.

Ralf Schuler, Maerkische Allgemeine Zeitung: What would you advise to the Chinese government to handle the Tibet question, and will you meet the Dalai Lama?

President Ma: We don't have specific plans to meet with the Dalai Lama. But he has come to Taiwan two times, and I met him, I recall, both times. Though we don't have specific plans now, if he wants to visit us as a religious leader, he will be very much welcomed. He has a lot of disciples in Taiwan who respect him very much. This is something that we certainly would not stop.

James Peng, Bloomberg News: I'd like to know your views on easing restriction on Chinese investment in Taiwan in terms of the property market, stocks, or any other direct investment. If you do, do you have a timetable for this, and will you give China national treatment?

President Ma: We have said during our election campaign that we will welcome investment by mainland enterprises, particularly in the area of infrastructure construction. As you know, we have put forward an "i-Taiwan 12 Projects" plan. And during the Boao Forum, then-Vice President-elect Vincent Siew attended and solicited investments. The mainland has responded positively, which is something we are happy to see.

[INAUDIBLE further question]

If these questions have not been dealt with there, we certainly will ask our authorities in charge to consider this project. You talk about the stock market. Other people talk about real estate market. There are many opportunities which we will discuss and evaluate. But in general, we welcome mainland investment in Taiwan.

Pablo Wang, El Siglo de Europa: I have two questions, actually. The first one is: After the earthquake in Sichuan —you were talking about investment answering the question from Bloomberg—do you think there will be some kind of delay in investment from China to Taiwan due to the reconstruction after the earthquake? And what do you think about the—what is actually your policy towards—Latin America, especially now that you have proposed [a "truce"] in the diplomatic tug-of-war between Taipei and Beijing?

President Ma: I don't think the earthquake will have any significant impact on future mainland investment in Taiwan. As to the second question regarding a truce on the diplomatic front, which I proposed as early as 2006, the idea basically is that we want peace but we also want dignity. So not only in the cross-strait context, but also in the international arena, we hope a truce can be achieved between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, although it will take a long effort to work out a modus vivendi based not on zero-sum gamesmanship but on pragmatism. As I said in my inaugural address, given the fact that the two sides are of the same Chinese ethnic tradition, we are very confident that together we can work out a modus vivendi to accommodate not only the interests of the two sides but also the interests of countries neighboring Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. I am very confident we can do it.

Wang: [INAUDIBLE] Latin America.

President Ma: I don't think we have made any change with regard to Latin America. During the past couple of weeks, I had the opportunity to communicate to some of our friends the assurance that our policies toward our Latin American friends will remain unchanged. And during the course of the inaugural celebrations, either in our conversations or on other occasions, we have continued to reassure them that the cooperation programs between the Republic of China and our allies will continue and possibly be expanded in the future.

Ralph Jennings, Reuters: Will you encourage Taiwan investors to help rebuild the earthquake-damaged areas of Sichuan? And, also, when the KMT [Kuomintang, the political party to which President Ma and Vice President Siew belong] chairman goes to meet Hu Jintao later in the month, what is on his agenda? What specific topics will the two discuss? Thank you.

President Ma: First of all, regarding the earthquake: It's been almost eight days since the earthquake, so the rescue work will probably come to an end soon. But following that, will come the work of relocation and reconstruction. These are areas in which Taiwan can play a role. We in fact learned lessons about this nine years ago, when we had a devastating earthquake on September 21. So we will be very happy to share our experiences with our mainland counterparts. I made it clear last week that we hope when they have been able to restore some order, maybe they can let the Taiwanese private sector adopt a certain area for reconstruction. This was the practice here in Taiwan when I was mayor [of Taipei] in 1999. We spent six months in the disaster area helping them rebuild and restore order. And we had about NT$600 million in donations from Taipei citizens. We used that fund to help more than ten townships. That worked out very well. Not only did the adopted area undergo something like a rebirth, but the relationship between the peoples of different places have been much stronger than before. I think this is probably an effective way for the Chinese mainland to turn a liability into an asset. So we really urge them to consider that approach. But it would be done by the private sector, in principle.

The other question is about KMT Chairman Wu Poh-hsiung's trip. The party-to-party platform was established [by the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party] in 2006—I'm sorry, 2005—by our honorary chairman Lien Chan and Mr. Hu Jintao. At the time, Mr. Lien Chan was the chairman of the KMT, but at the time we were in the opposition. Now, we are in power.

So Mr. Hu wants to resume contact. I welcome that because party-to-party contact could serve as a second track for cross-strait relations. And certainly, it will not overlap with the current channel, which will be established in a week or two between the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait. So I think this will help us promote friendlier relations between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland, and we welcome that.

Alfredo M. de la Rosa, Manila Times: Could you kindly discuss very briefly Taiwan's foreign policy toward Southeast Asia, particularly the Association of Southeast Asian Nations?

President Ma: Let me just give you an example as an answer to your question. In the year 2003, I was invited by World Economic Forum to go to Singapore to participate in a conference called the East Asian Summit. The topic of my speech there was "Why Not Ten Plus Four?" At the time, people were talking about Ten Plus Three—ASEAN plus mainland China, Japan, and Korea. I thought Taiwan was conspicuously missing, and I proposed that maybe they should consider Ten Plus Four.

We understand there are many difficulties and challenges ahead if we want to do that, but as a major economic powerhouse in East Asia, if we are not included, we could be marginalized in the future if that organization becomes the largest economic integration entity not just in Asia but also in the world. So we are very eager to become part of it in spite of these difficulties. I think if we are able to normalize our economic relations with the Chinese mainland, we will be in a much better position to improve our relations with ASEAN countries.

Kathrin Hille, Financial Times: I have one more question on the issue of a possible diplomatic truce with China. Can you describe in more specific terms how much you think China should contribute to achieve that such a truce and how much Taiwan can contribute, and perhaps, in particular, do you plan to have your government submit another bid for participation in the United Nations this year?

President Ma: As you can see, mainland China and Taiwan are increasingly using the same language now. We are talking about the '92 consensus. We are talking about maintaining commonality and shelving differences. We are talking about creating a win-win situation. We are talking about building mutual trust. Now this is a good sign. At least we are trying to pave the way for a successful resumption of a variety of negotiations. So, I think that we'll continue to do that, to remove some of the stumbling blocks along the road, hoping that we can quickly commence the necessary negotiations we have been waiting for a long time.


As you can see, the two referendums relating to either [joining] or returning to the UN failed to pass on March 22nd. So, we have to consider the legal requirements of our referendum law that no proposal in this regard will be permitted until three years later. We will look into the legal effects of the [theoretical bases] of the two referendums and see what we can do in that regard.

Christian Gottschalk, Stuttgarter Zeitung: Yesterday you said in your speech that you hope that mainland China would continue on the way of freedom and democracy. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about the first steps they have done? And the second very short question: Do you all want to open Taiwanese customs or make it easier to import goods from China into Taiwan. And the third very, very short one. Will you be the first Taiwanese president to visit Beijing.

President Ma: I missed your second question.

Gottschalk: A lot of Taiwanese [inaudible] told me that it is hard to import from China directly into Taiwan, hard or impossible. So will you do something so that the customs, the border, is more open for goods from mainland China to Taiwan.

President Ma: OK. Regarding your first question on democratization of the Chinese mainland, I did mention that in my speech. The idea is that as the mainland Chinese becomes more affluent, obviously, they will become more open. The most vivid example is what they did about the Sichuan earthquake as compared to the Tangshan earthquake in 1976. If I remember correctly, in 1976 nobody knew what happened in Tangshan. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed, but not a bit of information was released immediately after the earthquake, and all foreign aid was rejected. I remember that at the time, Taiwan tried to send food and other materials to the Chinese mainland using big balloons. Much to our surprise the balloons were shot down by the jet planes.

But look at what happened in the last couple of days. They became much more transparent than they were before. And they are ready to accept foreign rescue teams although it is a little bit too late. Still, this is a remarkable change from what they did in 1976. I consider that an open society is an important sign of democracy, and I think this is a very encouraging sign. And I hope they will continue to do that—open up the society and make the decision-making process more transparent. I think that will help not just cross-strait relations but their relations in general with the rest of the world.

As to the second question relating to goods from mainland China and launching direct links—not just air links but shipping links as well—eventually their goods will come to Taiwan, and our goods go to the mainland directly. Of course, the goods have to go through customs just as visitors from the mainland will have to go through customs, immigration, security check, and quarantine—what they call "CISQ." Of course, the travel documents will be different, and we have already dealt with that in the past.

Unknown person: [INAUDIBLE]

President Ma: I don't have any plans now. And I think the most important thing for the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to do is to restore the institutions which we established more than 10 years ago and resume the negotiations between the two organizations that represent, respectively, mainland China and Taiwan. If we can do that, many issues, many problems, could be solved over there. We could gradually move to other areas. I think there is no haste for the leaders of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to meet at this moment.

Andrei Chang, Kanwa Defense Review: Do you still support the three arms purchases from the US? What is your evaluation of the Taiwan Strait's military balance? You mentioned that your government will not launch an arms race with Chinese. However, during the past eight years, I've noted that the Chinese are increasing their military power day by day. That is my question.

President Ma: Obviously the arms buildup in mainland China has attracted the attention of many defense analysts. We certainly have taken note of it. But our policy is very simple: We will not engage in an arms race with the mainland, which is not only not in our interest but may be unaffordable for us. What we are trying to do is build a small but strong deterrent force so that the mainland would not even consider using force against Taiwan if they are not able to quickly win the preliminary battle. We still need defensive arms for that purpose, and we will continue to carry out arms procurement programs with other countries concerning defensive arms. But we have made it very clear that we will not build or acquire nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction.

Dev Nadkarni, National Business Review of New Zealand: You just said that you won't engage in an arms race with [China]. But there has been criticism that you have been in a race, that Taiwan has been in a race, to get influence in the Pacific area over the last ten years, with several little countries changing their allegiance between China and Taiwan. And this has led to several accusations and also diplomatic problems for Taiwan, the latest being the one in Papua New Guinea. And this, I believe, has also happened in other parts of the world with small countries oscillating between support to China and Taiwan. How would you be addressing your Pacific policy as well as this criticism, which has been [INAUDIBLE] about getting influence with aid?

President Ma: Well, this question has been dealt with in my inaugural address with respect to a diplomatic truce between Taiwan and the mainland. You are quite right in pointing out that in some parts of the world, the mainland and Taiwan are competing for diplomatic recognition and diplomatic ties. Sometimes, the fierce competition has led to scandals. This is something we regret and will avoid in the future. But, at the same time we call upon the Chinese mainland to engage in reconciliation and [accept a diplomatic] truce not only in the context of cross-strait relations but also in the international area, as I stated earlier. Doing so will not only help the two sides to move ahead in their bilateral relations—I mean mainland China and Taiwan—but also to stop the meaningless waste of resources. This is something that this government will pursue in the future. As I said, this could be very difficult, in consideration of the national interest and other matters. But, if we take cross-strait relations seriously, I think leaders in Beijing should consider exploring the possibility of finding a modus vivendi with Taiwan.

Jane Rickards, Washington Post: My main question is: I read in the local media which quoted your premier Liu—Mr. Liu, Dr. Liu, rather—as saying that Beijing is offering at least NT$1 trillion—that's nearly 33 billion US dollars—in foreign direct investment in Taiwan. I read the offer was made in Boao when Vice President Siew met with Hu Jintao. And so this capital inflow amounts to well over, I think, three-quarters of Taiwan's foreign direct investment, and it's going to be channeled into the 12 economic reconstruction projects, which are worth 4 trillion—so it's about a quarter of that amount. Is this report true, and if so, is the money coming from the private sector or the Chinese government? And are you concerned that this might lead to a certain degree of political dependence on China because nothing in this world is free? Thank you.

President Ma: So you're talking about the over-dependence of the Taiwanese economy on the Chinese mainland, is that right?

Rickards: [repeats question]

President Ma: Aha. So that's your first question, right?

Rickards: My first question is whether the figures are correct—that Beijing is offering at least NT$1 trillion, and that the offer was made in Boao. That's my first question. I'd like that clarified. And that it's going to be channeled into the 12 economic reconstruction projects. And secondly, obviously, this is going to present—if you're relying on China to fund a quarter of your 12 economic reconstruction projects— obviously, this are going to present some problems, potential problems in terms of, say, what if China doesn't deliver. Like: If there's a hiccup in cross-strait negotiations, where is the money going to come to fund these projects? And will there be strings attached if the investment does come to these projects? If China does offer this investment, will there be, do you foresee, any strings attached? Thanks.

President Ma: We wouldn't worry too much about—if I understand your question correctly—over-dependence of Taiwan on the Chinese mainland. This has been an issue almost 20 years ago, when we first allowed our businesses to sell to, or buy from, the mainland and to invest there. But over a period of more than 20 years, we haven't even seen a single case where the mainland uses trade or investment as a political vehicle in achieving their political objectives.

Although nobody knows whether that will happen, by and large, I think [the mainland Chinese] do business in a normal business way. As you know, last year, 40 percent of Taiwan's exports went to the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, and I guess the percentage might go up this year. But on the other hand, if we could solicit more investment from the mainland, I think maybe we could have a more balanced picture. As mainland China is rapidly becoming the No. 3 economy in the world, I think this is inevitable. A place like Taiwan, so close to the mainland, will have more trade and investment with them. The United States used to be our No. 1 trading partner, but it was replaced by the Chinese mainland a couple of years ago precisely as a result of that. So this is something probably inevitable unless we intervene politically to stop it. I don't think that is in our interest.


President Ma: Could you speak slightly louder, please?

Rickards: Sorry. Was the offer made at the Boao forum? And does the amount—the figures of the direct investment for these 12 infrastructure projects—is it almost or around NT$1 trillion?

President Ma: Well, it's true that our Vice President announced in Boao that we also welcome the mainland investment in the infrastructure projects we are promoting. They said they are interested, and Vincent told them that we welcome investment but not mainland workers. And actually, in our projects, two-thirds of the financing will be handled by the government and one-third by the private sector. So the mainland investment could go into that private segment, which is about, let me see, 130 billion NT dollars. We don't know exactly what they have in mind, but that figure probably wouldn't be too big in the sense of affecting our economy or decision-making.

Andrés Colmán Gutierrez, Ultima Hora: [speaking in Spanish]

Interpreter: Mr. President, this journalist is from South America, from the country of Paraguay, the [ROC's] only ally in South America. [His question:] "As you know, we recently held presidential elections, and the oppositional party won the elections, and the new government will assume the presidency on August 15. During the campaign, the presidential candidate was questioned about money diplomacy because money diplomacy has resulted in corruption in the government. The new president, during his presidential campaign, said that once he assumed the presidency, he would break ties with Taiwan and formally recognize mainland China, that is to say, would [cut ties] with Taiwan. Does this move worry you? And will you continue money diplomacy? Thank you.

President Ma: It has been our policy in foreign affairs that we will promote friendship and cooperation between Taiwan and our diplomatic allies. Actually, there are quite a few programs in progress, which we will carry forward without change and even expand in the future. But certainly, we think we will be very careful to avoid criticism and accusations—in some parts of the world—where mainland China and Taiwan have been competing for influence by using not-so-appropriate ways. This is something that concerns us as well. So we should be very careful in choosing the right way to get the support of the countries with which we share common ideals. But in the future, certainly we will look into these matters and try to do things without getting our image tarnished.

Peggy Chang, Voice of America: Thank you, President Ma. My question is related to Taiwan's international space. You said in your inaugural speech that only when Taiwan is no longer being isolated in the international arena can cross-strait relations move forward with confidence. And you also talked about…you would like to enter into consultations with mainland China on Taiwan's international space. But we know that there is a disproportionate number of countries that recognize Taiwan [as part of] China. So what kind of leverage does Taiwan have at the negotiating table and on this issue?

My second question is related to Taiwan's bid with the WHA. China has again thwarted Taiwan's effort to become an observer at the WHA. Would you be more optimistic if Taiwan tries again under the name "Chinese Taipei" next year? Would you like to discuss this issue specifically with mainland China? Thank you.

President Ma: Your first question is related to the leverage we have in proposing a truce or reconciliation on the diplomatic front. If you look at my speech carefully, you'll see that I take cross-strait relations as a whole. It has a purely cross-strait aspect, and it has an international aspect. They have to be viewed together. That's why I said we want security, we want prosperity, and we also want dignity. International space is closely related to the issue of dignity, and we take that very seriously.

While the mainland now has 171 countries in the world that recognize it and have formal diplomatic ties with it, we have only 23. It is, I think, meaningless to continue to squeeze Taiwan out of the international community. So it's time for us not only to achieve peace across the Taiwan Strait but also in the international arena. And the WHA is a good test case in point.

You must keep in mind, however, that we were inaugurated only yesterday, while the WHA convened the day before, and the proposal to join the WHA under the name "Taiwan" was made by the previous administration, over which we have no control. So in the future, we will probably use the WHA as a test case to see how far we can go. But obviously, for organizations, whether they are specialized agencies of the United Nations or not, if they have a global outreach, then Taiwan can play an important role with our technical competence. I think that it's worth trying to see how much we can achieve.

But I think [allowing Taiwan international space] is also in the interest of the Chinese mainland. If they continue to squeeze us, the people of Taiwan will obviously not have a positive image of the mainland, which is detrimental to what they want, namely cordial and smooth cross-strait relations. So let me just stress again that we look at the problems as a whole, we don't define them as cross-strait or international—they are one. Only by viewing problems that way can we really promote cross-strait relations.

Carolyn Gluck, BBC: You were elected by a very resounding majority in March. As the new president, what can you name as five practical steps that you would like to achieve in your first 100 days? Because there are such high expectations running on you.

President Ma: Well, I mentioned at the beginning of this press conference, first of all, the need to revitalize our economy; second, to build or rebuild a clean government; third, to achieve social harmony; and fourth, to make cross-strait peace. That includes peace on the diplomatic front. There are other issues that we also have to pay attention to, but these four are probably the most important ones we have to address beginning yesterday.

Gluck: By "practical steps," I mean, for example, in your first 100 days, would you like to see direct cross-strait weekend charter flights? Could you be more specific about what concrete things you'd like to see by the first 100 days?

President Ma: Well, there are quite a few things we could do in 100 days. They are listed in our campaign platform. For instance, in relation to our future tax policy, we will set up a tax reform commission to review our tax system and tax structure to find out whether we should cut our inheritance and gift taxes, whether we should further reduce our business income tax and so on and so forth. So that can be done, at least setting up the commission, in 100 days. By the way, 100 days means the deadline is August 27. [Then there is launching] direct cross-strait flights, arranging for visits by mainland tourists, and the effort to build a clean government by setting up a "clean government committee," and we will require either the central government or local governments to hold meetings of several sorts to establish new rules of the game for interaction between business and government, which I mentioned in my inaugural address.

So there are quite a few things we could do for almost every department of the government. There are things they could do within 100 days. And I understand that the new premier has already gotten some of those policies ready for this week's Cabinet meeting, next week's and then the next. So, they will be announced in stages over the weeks to come.

Francis Moriarty, Radio Hong Kong: First of all, congratulations on becoming the first Hong Kong-born person to be Taiwan president. In that vein, if it's difficult to imagine your visiting Beijing, perhaps it might be slightly easier to consider going to Hong Kong! I'm wondering whether, first of all, you received any congratulations from the Hong Kong government on your election, and secondly, whether, although you've been unsuccessful on your last two tries [to obtain a Hong Kong visa], you might try again to visit Hong Kong, your birthplace.

President Ma: I was denied the visa in 2005 to Hong Kong when I was invited to deliver a speech at Hong Kong University. We didn't know exactly what happened, but I know, it was a very sensitive issue. So I don't have any immediate plans to try to go to Hong Kong again. Well, actually, there are not that many places in the world that I can go now, unfortunately! But certainly, I hope that by the end of, say, my first term in office, I can go to many more places than my predecessors could.

Moriarty: Did you receive any [congratulatory message from Hong Kong?]

President Ma: I don't think I would get any congratulatory message from Hong Kong. When our vice president-elect went to Boao, I think you [speaking to Vice President Siew, sitting to his right] met with the leaders there. I'm sure they congratulated you on your…

[LAUGHTER as Vice President Vincent Siew gestures with his hand and says]

Vice President Siew: "Oral congratulations."

President Ma: Oral congratulations, yes! Not written ones.

Fong Tung Shing, Hong Kong TVB:

Thank you. Thank you Mr. President. This is [INAUDIBLE] from Hong Kong TVB news. Prosecutors [indicted] Mr. Chen Shui-bian a [INAUDIBLE] yesterday, after the transfer of power. Do you think this is a good time to do so? Thank you.

President Ma: I think all these legal cases or charges against the former president will be handled by the judiciary. I don't have any personal comments on that.

Francisco Peres, EFE (Spain): Thank you. You said that one of your objectives—one of the more important objectives—is to achieve social harmony in Taiwan. In the last eight years, we have seen a lot of confrontations between the opposition and the government. Now, the Kuomintang will control the parliament, and you will be the president. What are you going to do to pay more attention to what the opposition says? And do you have any expectations about the new president [i.e. chairwoman] of the DPP [Democratic Progressive Party]? How do you see the future relations of your government with the DPP?

President Ma: That's a very good question. The new DPP chairwoman [Tsai Ying-wen] will be inaugurated today. And she happens to be a former teaching colleague of mine at National Chengchi University. I congratulated her the day she was elected, two days ago, and interestingly enough, we still called each other "Tsai Laoshi" and "Ma Laoshi" because we were teachers [laoshi] at National Chengchi University. Swift reconciliate and coexistence with the opposition is also a very important policy of mine. I think that after [the KMT overwhelmingly] won [the majority of seat] in the January12th Legislative Yuan election, and the Legislature was convened at the beginning of February, we [the KMT] offered the chairmanships of sub-committees to the DPP but were rejected. That was actually a sign of goodwill because, by sheer numbers, they won't be able to become chairpersons even of sub-committees, but we are ready to share with them. That’s one example. On the other hand, I really hope we can move toward a more mature democracy and have more normal relations between the ruling party and opposition parties. With Ms. Tsai Ying-wen in charge, I guess there may be more opportunities for this, and even in the KMT-controlled Legislature, I think we have the intent and goodwill to promote further reconciliation.

As you see, I also decided to have the state banquet in Kaohsiung and invited all the members of the Kaohsiung City Council [including a large number of DDP members] to join us and the mayor [DPP member Chen Chu] as well. I think once I become the president, I become the president of all the people, not just of KMT members, and I take that very seriously. I appointed Lai Shin-yuan [a member of the Taiwan Solidarity Union] as chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council. The idea behind this is to assure the society that in the decision-making of our mainland policy, people with different backgrounds will have the opportunity to express their views. Although she has already expressed her general agreement with our policy objectives, I think this is a very important demonstration that I'm ready to broaden the foundation of our social consensus.

Jakub Adomowicz, Luxembourg Wort: In your inauguration speech yesterday, you also mentioned the desire of the Republic of China to combat climate change, and there are not many countries in Asia who are embarking on climate politics. Now, as it were, this is a big policy priority of the European Union, and my question in this context would be: To what extent would you like to see an emerging partnership between the European Union and the Republic of China in climate politics?

President Ma: Very good question. You are the only person to raise a question in this area. We are very concerned about carbon dioxide emissions in Taiwan because in the last eight years, the increase in this area has almost doubled, while our energy efficiency went down 8 percent. So we are very eager not only to increase our energy efficiency, but also to reduce emissions. We have set a goal to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 2016—the year, if I get reelected, that I'll finally step down—back to the level of this year. And then, by 2025, back to the level of the year 2000; and by year 2050, to half the level of the year 2000. These are very ambitious goals, but we have to do that in order to avoid potential sanctions by signatory countries of the Kyoto Protocol. Although we are not a signatory, we are a member of the international community, and there's no way we can avoid consequences of continuing such a large volume of carbon dioxide emissions.

Lin Chia Hui, Phoenix TV: Not a serious question. Your wife insists on having her own job even though you have become the president. This is the first time we've seen a first lady who has her own job. So do you have some expectations for her? What kind of first lady do you want her to be?

President Ma: I really believe that the question should be asked to her, not me. I dare not answer on her behalf.

Matilde Cordoba, El Nuevo Diario: [First speaking in Spanish, then in English] I'm a journalist from Nicaragua, and basically I have two questions. The first one, two minutes ago you were talking about emissions, CO2 emissions. You were talking about "if" you were elected for a second term, and you are just barely beginning your first term. So how can you think of…Does this mean you are thinking of getting reelected? That is the first question. The second question: What are the current situations with China, mainland China?

Government Information Office translator: [repeating the crux of Cordoba's second question:] The second question was: In case of better relations with mainland China, what would be the position of the status of Taiwan in the relation with mainland China?

President Ma: I didn't quite get the question.

Translator: [repeating the question in Chinese]

President Ma: Oh, you're talking about the status of Taiwan after improvement of relations between Taiwan and the mainland? As I said in my inaugural address, we will implement the policy of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force." "No unification" means that during my term of office I will not engage with the Chinese mainland in talks over the issue of unification of Taiwan and the mainland. "No independence" means I will not support the promotion of de jure independence of Taiwan, and "no use of force" needs no explanation. So, I said I will maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait under the framework of the Republic of China Constitution. That probably answers your question. We maintain the status quo, so the status remains the same.

Minister Shih: Thank you very much for coming here today, and may you have a very pleasant stay in Taiwan. Thank you.

President Ma: Thank you very much for joining us. For those who have come from afar, I will repeat my plea: Please do as much shopping as possible in Taiwan!


【Source: Office of the President】