President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promised to strengthen ties between Taiwan and the US during his second and final term, pledging to continue efforts to secure arms deals from the US and resolve an import dispute over US beef, among other issues.
“US-Taiwan relations have grown increasingly closer and more stable over the past three years under my administration ... We believe bilateral relations will continue to move forward in the next four years and the mutual trust between high-level officials of our two countries will continue to deepen,” Ma said at the Presidential Office, one day after winning re-election, while meeting with a group of US academics and policy experts.
Citing a congratulatory statement from the White House, Ma said the US recognized his administration’s efforts to maintain stable cross-strait relations, adding that the nation would work with the US to advance their mutual interests, including expanding bilateral trade and investment ties.
He welcomed a decision by the administration of US President Barack Obama not to make any adjustments to national defense budgets in the Asia-Pacific region and expects a warmer US-Taiwan relationship after the US formally grants Taiwan visa-waiver treatment.
The delegation Ma met included former American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) director Douglas Paal.
Paal endorsed the so-called “1992 consensus” — the basis of Ma’s China policies — during an interview with CtiTV on Thursday, during which he said that re-electing Ma would be in the interests of Taiwan, Beijing, the US and the region, while casting doubt on Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) cross-strait policy.
The AIT has distanced itself from Paal, saying his remarks were his “personal views.”
Paal yesterday congratulated Ma on his re-election.
After his interview with CtiTV on Thursday, Paal granted a second interview with the state-owned Central News Agency (CNA) right after the election on Saturday night.
“I gave the interview [to CtiTV] because if someone asks me my views, I give you my views, and it became a political subject unfortunately,” CNA quoted Paal as saying.
The delegation was invited by the government-affiliated Prospect Foundation, which said the main purpose of the visit was to exchange views with local experts on the political-economic situation in Northeast Asia at a closed-door forum yesterday.
In related news, Ma visited his father’s grave with his mother yesterday morning.
He later visited his campaign headquarters to thank his staff for their assistance during the election campaign.
Bowing in front of campaign workers, Ma promised to devote himself to serving the nation even though he will no longer be under pressure to get re-elected.
“There’s no pressure for me to seek another term, but I feel the pressure to leave behind a good reputation ... I will carry out my promises and push for reforms in Taiwan. I will do my best to set an example in the country’s history,” he said.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan