Fri, Nov 23, 2007 - Page 3 News List

Ma says he will not negotiate on unification if elected

STAFF WRITER

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou, left, embraces Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakata before their luncheon at a Yokohama hotel yesterday. Yokahama is home to Japan's largest Chinese and Taiwanese community.

PHOTO: AFP

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he will not negotiate with China on unification if elected president.

Ma made the remarks when meeting with members of the Japan-ROC Diet Members' Consultative Council in Tokyo, the Central News Agency reported.

The council, better known as the Nikkakon (日華懇談會), is made up of senior Japanese politicians across party lines and has been the main channel of communication between Taiwan and Japan since the two countries cut diplomatic ties in 1972.

During the meeting, Ma said he would pursue a policy of "no unification, no independence and no armed conflicts" if elected next year.

The presidential candidate said he would neither hold unification negotiations with China, nor support independence for Taiwan.

Ma said he would maintain the "status quo" in cross-strait relations, but would seek to negotiate with China on "normalizing economic ties, signing a peace treaty and increasing Taiwan's presence in the international community."

The presidential hopeful added that he would ask China to dismantle the ballistic missiles aimed at Taiwan before attempting any peace negotiations.

"We will be a responsible stakeholder. We will never unilaterally change the `status quo' and risk regional instability," Ma was quoted as saying.

Ma said he would try to enhance the relationship between Taiwan and Japan, and would make signing of a free trade agreement one of his objectives.

The former KMT chairman said on Wednesday that his visit to Japan was intended in part to alleviate concerns there that he is "anti-Japanese."

"I am neither anti-Japan nor pro-Japan. I hope to understand Japan and I hope the Japanese people will get to know me," Ma told a press conference on Tuesday.

Ma was scheduled to hold a news conference at a Tokyo hotel today before returning home later in the day, the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office said.

Asked for his take on Ma's comments, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said in Taipei yesterday that it was difficult to comment on Ma's remarks because the KMT presidential candidate "changes his mind too much."

Hsieh said it was confusing that Ma was now saying that he doesn't want to pursue unification whereas this had once been his stated goal.

Additional reporting by AP and AFP

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