Wed, May 21, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Ma takes the reins

LAUNCH OF A NEW ERAPresident Ma called for cross-strait negotiation based on the ‘1992 consensus’ and emphasized his campaign pledge to strengthen ties

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER, WITH CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou, second left, and first lady Chow Mei-ching, left, sing with Vice President Vincent Siew and his wife, Susan Chu, during inauguration celebrations yesterday in Taipei.

PHOTO: AP

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday called for cross-strait negotiation based on the “1992 consensus” in his inaugural address after becoming the nation’s 12th president, and proposed reconciliation and detente.

The “1992 consensus” describes the notion that both sides concede separate interpretations of the “one China” policy, but it is not universally recognized as valid in Taiwan.

In his speech, Ma urged Beijing to seize the historic opportunity to jointly open a new page of peace and prosperity.

He suggested maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait under the framework of the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution and the principle of “no unification, no independence and no use of force.”

Ma also acknowledged the agreement reached in last month’s Boao Forum, saying that both sides will “face reality, create the future, put aside differences and pursue a win-win situation.”

NEGOTIATIONS

In the long run, Ma said his administration hoped to engage in negotiations with Beijing about Taiwan’s international space and develop a peace treaty.

He asked Beijing for a truce and to reconcile. He also called for mutual assistance and respect.

The key to resolving the cross-strait issue, he said, does not lie in sovereignty but in the way of life and the belief in core values.

Saying that closer and better relations between Taiwan and China are vital to the interests of both sides, Ma said “the normalization of economic and cultural relations is the first step to a win-win solution.”

Emphasizing his campaign pledge to strengthen ties with China, Ma said: “It is our expectation that, with the start of the direct charter flights on weekends and the arrival of mainland tourists in early July, we will launch a new era of cross-strait relations.”

Ma has promised to allow an initial 3,000 Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan each day as well as allow Chinese to invest in Taiwan.

All these plans, however, are contingent on whether Beijing gives the green light.

On Taiwan-US relations, Ma only expressed the hope of strengthening cooperative relations with the “security ally” and “trade partner.”

He also affirmed the new government’s determination to earmark a “reasonable” defense budget and purchase “necessary” defense weapons.

HONOR

Describing the presidency as the greatest honor of his career and the greatest responsibility of his life, he said he was grateful for the country’s tolerance for a postwar immigrant like him.

He, however, emphasized that Taiwan is where he grew up and where the bones of his family are buried.

Ma pledged to abide by the ROC Constitution, saying it is more important to respect and practice the Constitution than amend it.

Ma said that priorities for his new adminstration included restoring the people’s trust in the government, promoting healthy competition among political parties and establishing a clean government.

“Power corrupts,” he said. “And absolute power corrupts absolutely. The new government will no longer be a stumbling block to social progress but a driving force behind it.”

Ma said his administration would upgrade the country’s international competitiveness and open up and deregulate its economy, saying that was the “most urgent task” in guiding Taiwan through the daunting challenges of globalization.

During two interviews with prosecutors on Aug. 7 and Oct. 27, the president claimed that the receipts used to claim reimbursements were used to conduct six secret diplomatic missions. But the district prosecutors said they learned that while two of the diplomatic missions were real, the suspects failed to offer any proof that the other four were real.

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