President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his policy of further opening the economy to China, saying that deeper cross-strait economic integration would not lead to political unification during his time in office.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Ma said the government understood the risks and challenges that come with developing relations with China and would maintain the “status quo” under the “three noes” policy — no unification, no independence and no use of force — while seeking cross-strait economic integration, including the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).
“We are fully aware of the potential risks and challenges, but developing relations with China also helps us create business opportunities. I believe the majority of the people agree that the strategy we adopted met Taiwan’s interests,” Ma said.
He dismissed the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) concerns that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) was falling into a trap set by Beijing and would pay a political price for economic benefits, insisting there was no timetable for talks on unification.
“The development of cross-strait relations should proceed step by step and we have been busy dealing with economic and cultural issues, and there’s no timeframe to discuss other problems, including political issues,” Ma said.
“Taiwan’s economy is the biggest concern for the public and there is no pressing need to deal with political issues,” he said.
Saying that he did not ponder the definition and direction of cross-strait ties and that he would not open talks on unification during his second term if re-elected next year, Ma said his administration prioritized cross-strait economic development and that the country would hold more negotiations with China under the umbrella of the ECFA.
Ma said the country was only “a quarter to a third” of the way through opening its economy to China.
He said the government was working on expanding the nation’s international participation and seeking free-trade pacts with other countries, and reiterated his intention to purchase arms from the US.