President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to strengthen communication with the public on cross-strait negotiations and said the government would not rely solely on cross-strait relations for its foreign policy measures.
“The government will not rely on wishful thinking and depend solely on cross-strait relations when promoting Taiwan’s foreign relations. We will seek a balance between cross-strait relations and pursuing relations with other countries,” Ma said at the Presidential Office in his New Year’s speech, titled “Reform, Striving, Taiwan Resurgence.”
Ma reiterated his resolution to pursue a policy of “no unification, no independence and no use of force” to handle cross-strait affairs and said his administration would continue promoting cross-strait exchanges on the basis of the so-called “1992 consensus.”
PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES
The “1992 consensus” refers to a disputed agreement allegedly arrived at by the two sides that there is “one China, with each side having its own interpretation.”
“Because the Republic of China is a democratic country, cross-strait policy must be subject to both supervision by the legislature and the public,” he said. “As to cross-strait agreements that concern people’s welfare, the government must be responsive to public opinion and increase communication with the opposition parties and the public to seek a consensus and gain support.”
Ma also called for dialogue with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on major government policies and urged opposition parties to join with the government to push for a better future for Taiwan.
“There are too many issues where the government and opposition parties cannot work together ... We will not make any progress or implement any reforms if we are still fighting over the same old issues,” he said.
Stressing the importance of signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, Ma said the ECFA would serve as a starting point for Taiwan to pursue more economic ties with other countries and increase the nation’s competitiveness in the international community.
Taiwan and China have signed 12 agreements after four rounds of cross-strait negotiations and all of the agreements protected Taiwan’s interests, rather than sacrificing the nation’s sovereignty, he said.
The government would seek to include tariff cuts in the ECFA to maintain the competitiveness of Taiwan’s products, while encouraging foreign investment to stimulate economic growth and create more job opportunities, Ma said, while promising to present measures to help businesses and employees who could be affected.
“The coming year is a crucial one for Taiwan to revive its economy. Taiwan must use the ECFA as a starting point to pursue a fair international environment for business, while also seeking to sign FTAs [free-trade agreements] with major trade partners,” he said.
Ma said it would be the best time to invest in Taiwan, as the government would be investing NT$32 billion (US$1 billion) in public construction projects this year and private investment would reach NT$170 billion.
He said the government had failed to satisfy the public last year and promised to improve its performance.
The DPP yesterday criticized Ma’s address and said, contrary to the president’s promise to maintain a balance in foreign policy, “Ma has always treated China as Taiwan’s sole foreign contact,” which has further isolated the nation from the international community.
“It is clear that ever since Ma took office, his primary goal has been to foster a relationship with China and he has done so at the expense of Taiwan’s relations with other countries,” said DPP Spokesman Tsai Chi-chang (蔡其昌), who added that the address was a list of more empty promises.
Tsai said Ma should “stop making promises about issues and start taking concrete action” to improve Taiwan’s economy and social welfare before the public completely loses confidence in his administration.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JENNY W. HSU
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