Fri, Feb 20, 2009 - Page 1 News List

EXCLUSIVE MA YING-JEOU INTERVIEW: Nothing to fear from a CECA with Beijing: Ma

The government’s cross-strait policies have prompted concerns over the potential impact on Taiwan’s sovereignty. In an interview with staff reporters Huang Tai-lin, Ko Shu-ling and Mo Yan-chih and executive deputy editor-in-chief Charles Cheng on Wednesday, President Ma Ying-jeou responded to his critics, calling on the public to have confidence in Taiwan despite the obstacles it faces in securing participation in international organizations

Ma: There are a lot of policies communist China has put in place but didn’t say so [formally]. For example, it wanted to refer to us as “China Taipei” during the Beijing Olympics last year, but we insisted on using “Chinese Taipei.”

On the issue of the International Olympic Committee [IOC], an agreement signed between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait in Hong Kong in 1989 stated that the title of the Taiwanese Olympic team within the scope of the IOC should be “Chinese Taipei,” and so we followed this protocol at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and at the Athens Olympics in 2004.

We opposed communist China’s attempt to change our title at the Beijing Olympics and negotiated with communist China. Although it did not make an announcement, it stopped using the title of “China Taipei” later.

The so-called diplomatic truce means to not engage in unnecessary vicious attacks against each other. However, it doesn’t mean that we will stop strengthening relations with allies and other countries. We are seeking visa-free entry from the US and work holidays from Japan. We continue to strengthen ties with our allies and enhance pragmatic relations with non-allies.

What we aren’t pursuing is fruitless efforts, such as striving for allies through vicious attacks. When the former DPP government was in power from 2000 to 2008, we got three small allies, but at the same time lost nine big allies. The DPP government’s “beacon diplomacy” cost us six allies in total, so why should we continue such a policy?

What Taiwan needs is a good international image rather than a bad international reputation. Taiwan should be a peacemaker rather than a troublemaker.

CHEN YUNLIN’S VISIT

TT: You just mentioned Taiwan’s international image. Following the visit of ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin [陳雲林] and events that took place during his stay, a number of international organizations such as Amnesty International and Freedom House expressed concerns about democratic regression in Taiwan. What are your thoughts on this?

Ma: There is some criticism, but as Freedom House mentioned at its press conference, it would not change its evaluation on Taiwan based on a single incident. The Chen Yunlin incident is not an isolated incident. The earlier incident with [ARATS Vice Chairman] Zhang Mingqing [張銘清] had made the police very nervous and so the confrontations were heightened. Otherwise it would have been unnecessary to station such a heavy police force during Chen’s visit.

TT: What about the police clampdown on people who carried national flags?

Ma: It was a misunderstanding. We never asked the police to clamp down on our national flag.

TT: But footage from TV news showed that a lot of those people were carrying national flags outside of the restricted areas.

Ma: No, they were inside the restricted areas. Some were on the bridge and the police were worried that they would throw the flags onto the road. I had made my points clear on TV, and if any police dared to clamp down on national flags, I think they were looking to get punished.

TT: But some people passing by with national flags were arrested.

Ma: From what I’ve seen on TV, those who were arrested were in restricted areas or threw flags during fights. A key point in the Assembly and Parade Act [集會遊行法] is that the law does not regulate the content of the protests. It only regulates the time, the place and the form of the protests.

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