Wed, Mar 04, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan recognizes Polish lawmaker as long-standing friend

By Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Increased economic cooperation between Taiwan and China will be significant in maintaining cross-strait stability, Stefan Niesiolowski, chairman and founder of the Polish-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group, told the Taipei Times recently.

“As a distant observer of Taiwan’s politics, I understand that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) enjoys high support for his strategies and directions. I feel that Taiwan should further its economic ties with Beijing, but it is crucial for Taiwan to remain vigilant and guarded of the relations,” he said on Friday, describing Ma as “a pragmatic man and a patriotic leader.”

As both sides become more economically interdependent, cross-strait tension will lessen and the military threat from Beijing will subside, increasing Taiwan’s security in the region, he said, adding that in spite of the recent rapprochement, Taiwan must still maintain its military capability.

The Polish congressional deputy speaker recalled that as a child growing up in a former communist regime, he learned about the plight of the Republic of China and heard stories from his parents of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) battles against the Chinese Communist Party.

“Even when I was a child, I was very impressed with the courage of the Taiwanese people. Taiwan’s rapid and drastic development, both economically and democratically throughout the years have also been quite impressive,” he said, lauding Taiwan’s respect for human rights and freedom of press.

China, however, has also undergone many major changes since the time of Mao Zedong (毛澤東), he said, and at present it is unlikely Beijing would take any military measures against Taiwan.

“It is important for both sides to find ways to co-exist peacefully and form a relation that is mutually beneficial as it would best safeguard Taiwan’s democracy,” he said.

Niesiolowski said he believed the EU’s arms embargo against China would most likely not be lifted in the near future because of China’s continued shabby record on human rights, including its poor treatment of Tibetans.

Niesiolowski was decorated with the Order of Brilliant Star with Grand Cordon last Thursday in a meeting with Ma for his long-term commitment to Taiwan’s democratic movement. At the reception, the president praised the strength of Polish-Taiwan relations despite an absence of formal ties.

Ma also urged Warsaw to grant Taiwan visa-free visitor status to boost exchanges. As of November last year, Polish passport holders can enter Taiwan visa-free and stay for up to 30 days.

Niesiolowksi founded the Polish-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group in 1997. The group is now the third largest of its kind in the Polish congress.

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