Wed, Feb 04, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Ma touts cross-strait accomplishments

'GOOD NEWS' The president dismissed concerns that warming cross-strait ties were making Washington and Tokyo nervous, saying his approach was universally welcomed

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER , TAINAN CITY

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday countered public concern over his cross-strait policy, saying improved cross-strait relations had strengthened the nation's sovereignty and enhanced its international profile.

Ma said those who are worried that better cross-strait ties would compromise “the sovereignty of the Republic of China” and “dignity of Taiwan” simply worried too much.

“When we improve cross-strait relations, we also restore mutual trust with Washington,” he said. “The nation's sovereignty was not weakened but rather strengthened. I am very confident about that, and I believe you think the same.”

Ma made the remarks while addressing a Lunar New Year gathering of China-based Taiwanese businesspeople in Tainan City.

Ma dismissed allegations that Washington and Tokyo were uneasy about the country's closer ties with Beijing, saying that his new cross-strait approach has been “universally welcomed.”

As the most recent dialogue between Washington and Beijing did not mention Taiwan, Ma said some might find it unusual, but in fact, “no news is good news.”

“It means it is normal and it is peaceful. It is the goal that we are striving for,” he said. “It is common sense that constant squabbling over Taiwan is bad for foreign investment in Taiwan.”

Touting Taiwan's geographical advantage, Ma said deregulation and liberalization would help build the country into a global innovation center and an Asian-Pacific business hub.

The country has wasted too much time on political disputes over the years, he said, adding that since he took office in May, he has gradually removed the obstructions and pushed for an economic restructuring.

Unfortunately, the global economic downturn has dealt a blow to the local economy, he said.

While cross-strait deregulation measures were not as effective as the administration had expected, Ma said they offered local businesses more alternatives and leverage.

“We never said China is our only hope,” Ma said. “The Chinese market is just a part of it.”

Saying the direction of his cross-strait policy was correct, Ma promised to stay the course and urged the opposition parties to support government policies that serve national and public interests.

Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) told reporters at the same setting that he expected to see both sides reach a consensus on at least four issues during the third cross-strait high-level talks, scheduled to be held in the first half of the year. They are financial cooperation, two-way investment, joint efforts to combat crime and regular aviation flights.

Chiang said the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) had authorized the foundation to negotiate with its Chinese counterpart, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, on the four issues.

The comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA), however, is not on the agenda of the forthcoming talks because it is a complicated matter.

MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said that both sides would begin the negotiation process as soon as they are ready. The administration will conduct the negotiations in a stable and practical manner, she said, and hopefully agreements will be signed.

As it is government policy to further normalize cross-strait trade, Lai said, the administration would examine and relax cross-strait regulations, hoping to build Taiwan into a management base and regional business hub.

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