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

TT: You have said that freedom and democracy are a common language across the Taiwan Strait. What do you think about China’s performance in these areas?

Ma: Of course there’s still a lot of room for improvement. On our part, I am pushing for the passage of two human rights conventions: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic and Cultural Rights. Communist China signed these two conventions 11 or 12 years ago and so I expected us to pass the two conventions as soon as possible.

The two sides of the Taiwan Strait should compete with each other in protecting human rights, democracy and freedom.

TT:Although China signed the conventions, in reality it oppresses the Falun Gong, Tibet and human rights activists, for example.

Ma: For communist China, there’s a lot of room for improvement in terms of human rights and democracy.

Even so, we still need to develop relations with communist China so it has the opportunity to learn from other countries. We don’t want to avoid communist China.

Instead, we want to push it to change through developing relations. It’s unnecessary to worry about Taiwan’s democratic society being affected by developing relations with communist China.

I have full confidence in Taiwan.

TT: After taking office, you opened the country to Chinese visitors and implemented cross-strait direct links. But the number of visitors is far less than expected and your approval ratings have fallen from 50 percent or 60 percent to 20 percent or 30 percent. You’ve paid heavy political capital for cross-strait policies. What are your thoughts on this? Will you change your policies?

Ma: We are in control of all the cross-strait policies and both the bad economy and my low support rate are not a result of my cross-strait policies.

In fact, cross-strait policy is the most popular of all of my policies. We need to further open the Taiwan Strait regardless of the economic situation.

Take sea transportation for example. Do you think we are a normal country if our ships are required to make detours to a third country and pay 30 percent to 40 percent more in total?

Cross-strait relations have not caused the economic slump, and yet some media outlets have misunderstood the whole thing.

I think the public knows that the situation is not like what some media portray.

TT: Does Taiwan depend on China too much economically?

Ma: It has been so since the former DPP government and our economic growth rate increased rapidly during that period of time.

The DPP government proposed proactive management and effective liberalization and also proactive liberalization and effective management, and it still failed to take control of the country’s economy.

The economy cannot be controlled fully by politics.

We will take economic measures to solve economic problems with less politics and ideology.

So far we have not seen any attempts by communist China to force Taiwan to do things we cannot accept and we wouldn’t have to accept it if they did so.

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