President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday promoted his “flexible diplomacy” policy, which faces oppostion criticism, and said his administration would seek to open up Taiwan in a manner that reflected cross-strait developments.
Addressing more than 70 students at a “democracy election camp” organized by his campaign office in Greater Tainan, Ma said that thanks to his policy, the Chinese government had rejected requests by at least three allied nations to establish diplomatic ties with Beijing.
“The modus vivendi has successfully helped our nation end diplomatic isolation and resolve confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” he told the group at Sheng Mu Temple.
While touting the advantages of the rapid development of cross-strait relations, Ma said that signing the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) with China in June last year was a first step in continuing cross-strait negotiations.
He also said that negotiations between Taipei and Beijing would face severe challenges in the future.
“Taiwan needs to be more open in order to become more competitive internationally … I want to correct the wrongs in Taiwan during my first term and if I am re-elected, I will seek to transform Taiwan and set up solid foundations for future prosperity in the next 20 to 30 years,” he said.
Ma, who is seeking re--election in January, blamed the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration for what he described as a “closed-door policy” and said the openness of Taiwan still fell short of his expectations, promising to continue reviving the economy via cross-strait exchanges.
“Whether you like it or not, Taiwan has to develop a certain relationship with the mainland [China] because it has become the second-largest economic entity in the world. Changes are happening and we must not stop the reform,” he said.
The three-day camp, which opened on Friday, is part of the president’s re-election campaign efforts to attract support among first-time voters, who polls have shown are mostly undecided.
Holding the camp in Greater Tainan, a pan-green stronghold, also demonstrated the campaign office’s attempt to solicit support in the south.
Ma campaign office spokesman Yin Wei (殷偉) said the team would hold more democracy camps with students in the central and northern parts of the country, adding that students who joined the camp could be recruited as campaign staff, as the team also tried to attract new blood.