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Mainland Affairs Council

President Ma's Remarks

President Ma's remarks at 2016 AmCham Hsieh Nien Fan celebration(excerpt: cross-strait relations)

III. Peace dividend expands international space, makes Taiwan a peacemaker and provider of humanitarian aid
In seeking to create cross-strait peace under the framework of the ROC Constitution, we have maintained the status quo, which we define as "no unification, no independence, and no use of force." At the same time, based on the 1992 Consensus, that is "one China, respective interpretations," we have promoted the peaceful development of cross-strait relations. To date, the two sides have signed 23 agreements, and the respective ministers in charge of cross-strait affairs have met seven times, addressing each other using their official titles. In a little over seven years, the number of regularly scheduled weekly flights between the two sides has increased from zero to 890, and mainland tourists have made over 18 million visits to Taiwan. We now also have over 42,000 mainland students studying in Taiwan, a 50-fold increase.
Well, so many students from mainland China in Taiwan. Four years ago when I won my re-election victory, two students—one from mainland China and one from Taiwan—were interviewed by The New York Times. They were looking at the election results, and the Taiwanese student said, "Look how efficient our electoral system is. We cast our votes in the morning, and get the results in the evening!" The mainland student said, "That's nothing. At home, we also cast our votes in the morning. But we knew the result the day before!"
So this is an occasion to appreciate the value of student exchanges, and the very strong sense of humor of many students.
So cross-strait trade is now worth 160 billion US dollars a year, with an annual surplus of US$70 billion for Taiwan. That means over the past eight years, cross-strait trade has generated a trade surplus of almost US$600 for Taiwan, while our global trade surplus has been about US$250 billion. So you can see, without the surplus we generate from trade with the mainland, we would have a massive global trade deficit. That tells you just how important cross-strait trade is.
Then, friendly cross-strait interaction over the past eight years has also yielded a significant peace dividend in the international arena. First, the development of Taiwan-US relations and the trilateral interaction involving the US, Taiwan, and the mainland over the past eight years have led to the warmest relations in over 60 years. This is the first time all three parties have been able to have friendly interactions with the other two at the same time, and not worry about adverse reactions. That situation has drawn praise from many US government officials.
For example, during a speech in May of last year, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Susan Thornton, publicly acknowledged that Taiwan-US relations have never been better. She also emphasized that "an important ingredient of the close cooperation in recent years has been the stable management of cross-Strait ties."
In a commentary published on the 26th of last month, former US Deputy Secretary of Defense Rudy deLeon also praised the positive effects of the 1992 Consensus, which allows the two sides of the Taiwan Strait to have a constructive dialogue, and resolve important issues. He also had good things to say about our "no surprises" policy, because it has allowed Beijing and Washington to directly interact with Taiwan.
All of these comments from Americans attest to the positive impact that cross-strait relations have had on Taiwan-US relations.
IV. Taiwan's future: Three key issues
I also want to take this opportunity today to look at Taiwan's prospects for the future through the lens of three key issues. The first issue is cross-strait relations.
Because the two sides of the Taiwan Strait had accumulated enough mutual trust, and predicated on equality and dignity, on November 7 last year I met with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) in Singapore to exchange views about consolidating cross-strait peace and maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. That meeting was a sign that the current cross-strait leaders have already established a communication mechanism to resolve disputes through peaceful means, setting a positive example for the international community.
As you know, when I met Mr. Xi in Singapore, we adopted different formalities that were never used before. Neither of us mentioned the country we represent. Neither of us used our official titles. For the costs of the banquet—we go Dutch. And for the beverages, we brought in our own. I brought in gao liang [liquor], and Mr. Xi brought mao tai [liquor]. And I noticed that he drank more gao liang than mao tai. So we sent all the remaining gao liang to Mr. Xi as a gift.
During the presidential election in January of this year, the three candidates all advocated maintaining the status quo that we have created over the past eight years. So that constitutes the clearest "Taiwan Consensus." But creating the current status quo of peace and prosperity was no easy task. So if our President-elect can truly abide by the ROC Constitution, and keep peace in the Taiwan Strait uppermost in mind, then accepting the 1992 Consensus, which is derived directly from the ROC Constitution, shouldn't be too much of a problem. The 1992 Consensus is not just a KMT-CCP (Chinese Communist Party) Consensus. It's not just a Taiwan Consensus. It's a cross-strait Consensus—and a solid foundation for the peaceful development of cross-strait relations.
I think most of you may think that the 1992 Consensus—"one China, respective interpretations"—is very vague. Yes, quite a few people call that a "masterpiece of ambiguity." Ambiguous or not—it worked. And it worked very well.
V. Conclusion
Looking ahead to the challenges of the future, I hope that the next administration will show mature wisdom, continue to maintain the cross-strait status quo of peace and prosperity based on the 1992 Consensus, and actively pursue regional economic integration.
【Source: Office of the President】