President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) told an Italian weekly magazine that the situation across the Taiwan Strait was different to that between Georgia and Russia, and that this was because of thawing relations between Taipei and Beijing and a US commitment to help Taiwan maintain adequate defense capabilities.
Ma made the remarks after being asked by L’espresso if Washington’s hands-off attitude as Russian forces occupied Georgian territory was an indication the US cannot protect its “lesser” allies.
The interview was conducted on Aug. 22 in Taipei and was published on Friday in the latest issue of the magazine.
Ma said Washington’s policy choices when dealing with the Georgia issue were not new, adding that the US had responded similarly to Russian interventions in Chechnya in the 1990s.
The situation in the Taiwan Strait is different, Ma said.
He said that the Taiwan Relations Act enacted by the US in 1979 represented legislation under which the US makes available items necessary for Taiwan to maintain adequate defense capabilities.
Furthermore, over the past 20 years, a wide-ranging socioeconomic network has been established across the Strait, which has helped mitigate any form of hostility between the two sides, Ma was quoted as saying.
Both sides have also expressed a desire to forge a peace treaty if possible, he said.
He said that following decades of tensions, it was time for Taiwan and China to seriously consider working out a peaceful resolution to their differences.
Ma renewed his call on China to remove the missiles it aims at Taiwan as a gesture of goodwill to pave the way for cross-strait peace talks.
As Taiwan will not negotiate a cross-strait peace agreement under the threat of Chinese attack, Ma said Beijing should first dismantle its missiles.