American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt will meet President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) today to brief Ma on the meeting between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) that took place in Washington last week.
Burghardt, who arrived in Taipei late on Sunday night, met Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon.
Calling Burghardt “an old friend of Taiwan,” Siew said it was a shame that Burghardt’s stay was so short. He said he hoped Burghardt could stay a little longer next time so they could have a chance to spend some time together in the south.
Burghardt, who referred to Siew as his “old friend,” said he could not visit the south this time, but hoped they could do it in the future.
Burghardt leaves tomorrow.
Amid calls for Ma to mention the military imbalance across the Taiwan Strait and the importance of arms procurement from the US when he meets Burghardt today, Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) yesterday declined to reveal whether Ma would touch on those issues or make any concrete demands for specific items the government wishes to purchase from the US.
Meanwhile, yesterday Ma lauded the achievements of the Republic of China (ROC) government during the past 61 years since it moved to Taiwan in 1949 after losing in the civil war with the Chinese Communist Party.
“The ROC on Taiwan has evolved into a free and democratic society,” he said. “The people have directly elected the president four times and there have been two transfers of political power. The ROC has become a full-fledged democracy.”
Ma said since he took office about two-and-a-half years ago, he had been committed to improving cross-strait relations with the purpose of pursuing peace across the Taiwan Strait.
So far, the two sides of the Strait have signed 15 agreements and there are 370 direct flights operating across the Strait. The current situation is substantially different from that of 60 years ago, which was marked by tension and hostility, Ma said.
Since Taipei and Beijing signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) last June, Ma said his administration has also begun to explore the possibility of inking a similar trade pact with Singapore.
The purpose behind the trade agreements is to build Taiwan into a global center for innovation, an Asia-Pacific economic and trade hub, a global headquarters for Taiwanese merchants and a regional headquarters for foreign companies, he added.