President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday used his Double Ten National Day address to call on China to remove the more than 1,000 missiles aimed at Taiwan and said the most important missions of his administration were reform, innovation and the pursuit of justice.
“The mainland authorities have recently mentioned the possibility of removing missiles. We think it bears a positive significance for cross-strait ties and hope that it will become a reality as soon as possible,” he said in front of the Presidential Office, adding that he hoped to see this happen in a “hasty” manner.
Ma was referring to comments by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) in New York City last month, where he vaguely referred to the possibility of the missile question being resolved at some point.
Ma said that cross-strait relations have improved significantly and tensions across the Taiwan Strait have lessened since he took office in 2008.
However, he said that Taiwan could not pin its security solely on cross-strait detente, adding that it was necessary to develop defense capabilities and continue to purchase defensive weapons that the country could not produce.
The Republic of China (ROC), which was celebrating its 99th anniversary yesterday, is an independent, sovereign nation, Ma said, and his administration is conducting cross-strait negotiations under the framework of the ROC Constitution and on the basis of the [so-called] “1992 consensus.”
“Although at this stage the two sides of the Taiwan Strait cannot accord de jure recognition to each other, we should nevertheless adopt a pragmatic policy of de facto ‘mutual non-denial,’” he said.
Drawing a connection between Taiwan and China, Ma said everyone in Taiwan was a participant and contributor during the course of the ROC’s development.
“We cherish Taiwan and identify with the ROC,” he said. “We wish the best for Taiwan and want the ROC to flourish.”
Ma said the country would maintain the “status quo” of “no unification, no independence and no use of force” under the framework of the ROC Constitution. His administration would continue to uphold the principle of putting Taiwan first for the benefit of its people, safeguarding the ROC’s sovereignty and maintaining Taiwan’s dignity, he said.
Ma pledged to adopt a pragmatic and flexible approach and strengthen cooperation with diplomatic allies as well as other non-allied nations. These include the US, Japan, Southeast Asian nations, New Zealand, Australia and EU member states, he said, adding that his administration would work to sign free-trade or economic-cooperation agreements with trading partners.
On the need to reform government, Ma said some questioned whether this would cost his administration votes, but he did not agree.
“Taiwan is now in a race against time,” he said. “We cannot put off reform for the sake of winning elections ... Only reform can secure our future and only by securing our future can we win people’s hearts.”
Ma vowed to narrow the gap between rich and poor, saying it was equally important to have the fruits of economic development shared by the general public.
Economic development would not focus only on growth, but also on fairness, he said. To this end, his administration would continue to work on tax reform.
“Wherever there is poverty, our government will give caring attention and extend a helping hand,” he said.