Mon, Dec 29, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Ma sticks to ROC Constitution’s writ

‘FREE REGION’The president said that adhering to the 1991 interpretation of cross-strait relations had contributed to peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that the Republic of China (ROC) was an independent sovereignty whose territory covered China, as dictated by the ROC Constitution.

Ma made the remarks while addressing senior government officials attending a workshop on mainland affairs in Taipei yesterday morning.

Ma said he had not invented the notion of cross-strait relations as it was clearly defined in the ROC Constitution. While both sides of the Strait refused to recognize each other between 1949 and 1991, the status of the two sides changed in 1991 when the ROC Constitution was first amended, he said. It was further validated by the Act Governing Relations between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (台灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條例) in 1992, he said.

“The concept was introduced 17 years ago during Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) presidency and the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration did not change it at all during its eight years in power,” Ma said.

Ma said such a notion was an important element keeping the Taiwan Strait stable, adding that a majority of Taiwanese was in favor of maintaining the so-called “status quo.”

I am doing exactly what the people are hoping for, he said.

Ma said he did not denigrate Taiwan’s sovereignty by upholding such a concept, as the constitutional amendment clearly refers to Taiwan as the “free region” and China as the “mainland region.”

“The free region and the mainland area are part of the territory of the Republic of China,” he said. “The Republic of China is a sovereign country, whose sovereignty has been independent since it was founded in 1912.”

Countries that split after World War II have similar constitutions, including Germany and South Korea, he said.

While both sides refused to recognize each other between 1949 and 1991, Ma said, they have gradually moved toward “mutually not denying each other” since 1992.

Commenting on the cross-strait direct transportation links, Ma said his definition of a “cross-strait route” was that it was “a special route.”

“It is not a black-or-white answer,” he said. “By doing so, we put aside differences and create a win-win situation.”

Ma also defended his administration’s efforts to bypass an international treaty on endangered species to import two giant pandas from China

Despite a claim by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) that the import was a “domestic trade,” Ma said “it was quite clear and simple” that it was not a “domestic trade,” as the two animals had to go through customs.

Emphasizing that China is a threat as well as an opportunity, Ma said his administration had a mandate to minimize the threat and maximize the opportunities.

The international community should welcome the thawing relations across the Strait and should appreciate that Taiwan has become a “peacemaker” rather than a “troublemaker,” Ma said.

While some have criticized him for tilting toward Beijing, Ma said he only leaned toward Taiwan and that he had never done anything that compromised the sovereignty, national interest or honor of the country.

“There is no need to worry that I will sell out Taiwan, because [for me] Taiwan is always the focus and the people’s interest always comes first,” he said.

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