Tue, Dec 30, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Negotiations over WHA meeting ongoing, Ma says

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday expressed the hope that Taiwan could participate at the next World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in May, adding that his administration was negotiating on the issue with Beijing.

Ma, however, emphasized that the undertaking was bound to require a lot of effort.

He made the remarks during an interview with Yahoo Kimo news. The interviews, in Chinese and English, will be available online today.

Ma also said many of the nation’s diplomatic allies have expressed an interest in establishing “unofficial diplomatic ties” with Beijing. His administration would try to reach a consensus with Beijing in this regard so that neither side would attempt to lure away each other’s diplomatic allies, he said, adding that the country’s diplomatic allies all supported his proposal and the policy has produced some positive results so far.

“Such an achievement is accepted not only by us, but also by Washington,” he said. “I believe it will eventually be accepted by Beijing.”

On the nation’s sovereignty, Ma said both sides of the Taiwan Strait refused to recognize each other between 1949 and 1991, but in 1991 hostilities ended and the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution was amended in such a way as to refer to China as the “mainland area” and Taiwan the “free area.”

Both sides then gradually moved toward “not denying each other’s existence,” Ma said, and therefore more room was created for negotiations.

“We no longer set the precondition that they must recognize us before we are willing to talk,” Ma said. “Our position is that we will continue to talk. Such a practical approach creates many possibilities.”

He cited examples such as the recent arrival of the two giant pandas, the nation’s participation at this year’s APEC summit and the two meetings between Straits Exchange Foundation Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

On the proposal to change the names of the two pandas, Ma said it was unnecessary to do so unless a majority of the public thought the names were inappropriate.

“I think everybody is getting used to it,” he said. “Their names should be appropriate and timely because their public display is close to the Lunar New Year.”

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