President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday once again played up the notion of the nation’s soft power, saying its pavilion at the World Expo in Shanghai had helped to reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait and prevent war.
“Nobody would want to start a war after visiting the Shanghai World Expo — that’s very clear,” he said, twice mistakenly referring to the World Expo as the Flora Expo before correcting himself. “The exercise of Taiwan’s soft power has definitely had a positive effect on the world.”
The nation’s soft power was the main reason the EU recently decided to grant visa-waiver privileges to Republic of China (ROC) passport holders, Ma said while meeting a delegation of Taiwanese that had just returned from the World Expo.
When the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was in power, ROC passport holders enjoyed visa-free entry to only 53 countries, Ma said. During his presidency, eight more countries and regions had offered visa-waiver treatment before the EU also added Taiwan to its list.
Ma said he expected to see more countries include ROC passport holders in their visa-waiver programs next year and hoped to see the number reach 100 next year when the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ROC is to be celebrated.
Meanwhile, Presidential Office Spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) dismissed allegations by an Internet user that Ma was selling out Taiwan and asked that he produce proof to substantiate his claims.
Lo, who has just launched his own Facebook page, was responding to a post left on his wall by a man calling himself Henry An (安亨利), in which he accused Ma of selling out Taiwan.
In a 2,000-word response, Lo asked An to prove how Ma was selling out Taiwan and called the accusation “defamatory.”
“President Ma has lived in Taiwan for more than 60 years and Taiwan is his home,” Lo wrote. “If Mr An does not sell out his hometown, why should the president? I am also born and bred in Taiwan. I cannot think of any reason why I would help someone sell out Taiwan.”
Ma, who was born in Hong Kong, moved to Taiwan with his family when he was aged one.
Comparing the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) administration with that of the DPP, which was in power from 2000 to 2008, Lo said Taiwan lost six diplomatic allies when the DPP was in power. Under Ma, the country has maintained solid relations with its 23 allied countries and 43 countries or regions have granted ROC passport holders visa-waiver privileges since Ma came to office, he said.