President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday praised Beijing for the “goodwill” it has shown in improving cross-strait relations, citing the World Games in Kaohsiung as an example.
Ma said the fact that International World Games Association (IWGA) president Ron Froehlich twice referred to him as president of the Republic of China (ROC) during the opening ceremony was a clear indication that Taiwan has received more respect in international events.
“It mainly results from the support of our friends in the international community and ameliorated cross-strait relations,” he said. “The mainland has indeed extended goodwill to us and it is a fact that we cannot deny.”
Ma made the remarks while campaigning for his Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairmanship election bid in Taitung County yesterday.
In his speech, Ma did not mention that the Chinese team refused to attend the opening ceremony. Local media speculated that the Chinese delegation boycotted the opening ceremony to avoid giving the impression that Beijing recognizes Ma’s status as president or Taiwan’s status as a sovereign state.
Meanwhile, in a weekly video address made available yesterday — a remake, after its original July 25 version was found by an Internet user last week to have been pre-recorded — Ma said that opening the World Games in his capacity as president was a “breakthrough.”
Ma said it showed his administration has moved closer to his proposed goal of “mutual non-denial” between Taipei and Beijing, he said.
He also explained why he did not refer to himself as the president at the opening ceremony.
On the night of the opening ceremony, Ma, following Froehlich’s introduction as president of the ROC, took the podium and said: “Ladies and gentlemen, I now declare open the eighth edition of the World Games in Kaohsiung 2009.”
Ma said in the video that since Froehlich referred to him twice as president of the ROC while the master of ceremony did once, if he were to say it again, it would have sounded “intentional.”
“I think it is best and more meaningful for others to introduce me as president of the Republic of China, especially the IWGA president,” he said.
Whether Ma would attend the event as the nation’s leader was contentious from the beginning. The IWGA initially rejected the Kaohsiung City Government’s request that Ma preside over the opening ceremony.
Following further negotiations, the IWGA agreed to Ma’s attendance in his capacity as ROC president.
Ma said in the video that he was very moved when singing the ROC’s National Banner Song (國旗歌) in front of 40,000 people and 105 athletes from around the world.
The president thanked Democratic Progressive Party Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), her predecessor Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and government sports heads for their efforts to make the event possible.