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President Ma meets former US Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of August 25 with former US Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg, during which he indicated his hope that the United States will assist the ROC in joining the second round of multilateral trade negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This, the president said, would raise the chances of Taiwan becoming a signatory to the TPP in the future.
In remarks, the president stated that Mr. Steinberg is currently the dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, and his achievements in academic circles are well-known. While serving as deputy secretary of state, Mr. Steinberg assisted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in mapping out many important foreign policy issues. He not only was instrumental in formulating the "rebalancing toward Asia" policy, but also was a core figure in boosting ROC-US relations, the president said.
President Ma believes that the joint efforts of the two countries have led to the best bilateral relations in the 36 years since the passage of the Taiwan Relations Act. Both former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry previously referred to Taiwan as "an important security and economic partner" of the United States. Moreover, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton in May of this year delivered an address at the Brookings Institution during which she recognized how good ROC-US relations are and also said that this is in large part due to the ROC's steady handling of cross-strait relations.
President Ma commented that the improvement in the ROC's relations with mainland China and the United States at the same time is what has pleased him most over the past seven years that he has been in office. After careful consideration and detailed planning, the ROC government introduced an extremely stable framework, which stresses that under the framework of the ROC Constitution, the government will work to maintain the status quo of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force" in the Taiwan Strait, and promote the peaceful development of cross-strait ties under the 1992 Consensus, whereby each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means.
Mentioning progress in cross-strait relations in recent years, the president explained to the visitors that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have signed 23 agreements over the past seven years, including the Cross-Strait Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Enhancement of Tax Cooperation, and the Cross-Strait Collaboration Agreement on Flight Safety and Airworthiness that were signed earlier in the day in Fuzhou in mainland China. As for cross-strait interaction, visitors from mainland China have made over 14 million trips to Taiwan, almost four million of them in the past year alone. In addition, the number of mainland students studying in Taiwan jumped from over 800 when he took office in 2008 to about 33,000 last year, a 40-fold increase. And from the APEC meetings in October of 2013 to May of this year, the heads of the agencies on either side responsible for cross-strait affairs have met a total of five times, and referred to each other using their official titles.
President Ma stated that cross-strait relations are the most stable and peaceful they have been in the past 66 years. This, the president said, is the first time since the beginning of the Cold War that the United States need not choose sides in the cross-strait equation, and could have amicable interactions with the ROC and mainland China at the same time. He added that such bilateral relations should be able to usher in the most stable results.
Commenting on trade and economic relations between Taiwan and the United States, President Ma noted that Taiwan last year vaulted past India and Saudi Arabia to become the 10th largest trading partner of the United States, while the United States has outpaced Japan to become Taiwan's second largest trading partner. Negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement also resumed in March of 2013.
President Ma further pointed out that as members of the TPP absorb 35% of our exports in terms of dollar value, the ROC definitely wants to join the TPP. However, the president said, the ROC is still confronting some difficulties that need to be overcome. He then hopes that the United States will provide assistance and help the ROC participate in the second round of multilateral trade negotiations of the TPP, thus raising chances for the ROC to become a TPP signatory.
As for ROC-US military interaction, the president noted that over the past seven years US arms sales to the ROC reached US$18.3 billion, the highest amount in the past two decades. That doubles the amount that the US sold to the previous ROC administration, and is also higher than what they sold to the administration before that. In addition, in December of last year the United States agreed to sell the ROC four Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates. When screening the budget, both the US Senate and the House of Representatives supported strengthening military interaction between the ROC and the US, along with inviting the ROC for the first time to participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and Red Flag training exercises. These actions, the president added, show that bilateral cooperation in security is even closer than it was before diplomatic ties were severed.
The president said that the ROC has developed relations with mainland China at the same time that ROC-US relations have progressed, and that the two sides have established mutual trust. The ROC is also forging cross-strait relations under the principle of "no surprises." "We are making every effort to prevent the United States from being surprised," he said. The ROC is also taking a low-key approach, so both sides have considerable latitude in handling things, the president added.
President Ma then shared successes in ROC-US cooperation projects in education and public health with the visitors, including the Pacific Islands Leadership Program, the International Environmental Partnership, and a training course in Taiwan designed to help prevent the spread of Ebola virus. In June of this year the ROC and the United States also signed a memorandum of cooperation on the Global Cooperation Training Framework (GCTF), and jointly held an International Training Course on Molecular Diagnosis of Middle East Respiratory Virus (MERS) Co-V, the inaugural event held under the GCTF.
The president again expressed gratitude to Mr. Steinberg for his support for the ROC, and contributions to promoting ROC-US relations.
【Source: Office of the President】