Wed, Jan 07, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma still digesting Hu’s remarks

LISTEN UP Ma said the majority of the public supported his cross-strait initiatives, but he would continue to communicate with those who did not

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Ma Ying-jeou, right, welcomes Alan Romberg, second right, and other researchers from the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at the Presidential Office yesterday. Ma said the government had made steady progress in improving cross-strait relations.

PHOTO: CNA

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday offered his first statement on Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) recent remarks on Taiwan, saying his administration was still analyzing Hu’s comments.

Ma said cross-strait relations had improved substantially over the seven months since his inauguration. What is more important, he said, is that mutual trust with Washington and Tokyo has essentially been restored as cross-strait tension has eased.

Ma said the progress made on foreign relations and cross-strait policies was in line with the goals he had set for his administration.

Ma said he realized that regardless of the progress made, there were differing opinions about the government’s cross-strait policies. Ma said that the majority of the public supported his cross-strait initiatives, but that he would not ignore the critical voices of the minority and would continue to communicate with them.

“We want them to understand that when we improve relations with the mainland, we never sacrifice Taiwan’s interests,” Ma said.

Ma made the remarks while receiving a delegation of US experts on cross-strait relations at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon. The five research fellows — Tom Christensen, Alan Romberg, Iain Johnston, Taylor Fravel and Steven Goldstein — are from the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies of Harvard University.

Goldstein told Ma that they came at an important time, both in terms of cross-strait relations and relations between Taiwan and the US.

As the delegation will also visit China, Ma said their visit was symbolic for both sides because they were the first group of US experts to visit both since Hu’s statement on Dec. 31.

In a speech to mark the 30th anniversary of Beijing’s “open letter to Taiwanese compatriots,” Hu called for a pragmatic approach to ease cross-strait tensions, including ending hostilities, signing a peace agreement and establishing a military confidence-building mechanism.

“As long as the ‘one China’ principle is recognized by both sides ... we can discuss anything,” Hu told a gathering of Chinese Communist Party officials at the Great Hall of the People. “China and Taiwan could, at a proper time, begin contacts and exchanges on military issues and explore a mechanism to build trust on military matters.”

In addition to pledging to maintain already flourishing business ties, Hu said he understood Taiwan’s desire to take part in “international activities.”

Howver, Hu said Beijing would not tolerate any move that suggested independence, “two Chinas,” or “one China, one Taiwan.”

Ma said yesterday that the Presidential Office had made a preliminary response to Hu’s comments and was in the process of further analyzing the statement.

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