President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday brushed off Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) claim that she initiated the “small three links” with China and defended his cross-strait policies as having maintained peace across the Taiwan Strait and expanding the nation’s international space.
During a visit to Taoyuan County, Ma acknowledged Tsai’s efforts in pushing for the “small three links” during her tenure as Mainland Affairs Council chairperson, but said that it was the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that approved the Regulation on Offshore Development (離島建設條例) in the legislature before the DPP was in power, thus establishing the legal basis for the development.
“Besides the ‘small three links,’ the ‘big three links’ are in their third year and the number of daily cross-strait flights has now reached 588. Under peaceful cross-strait relations, we are able to expand international space,” Ma said yesterday during a visit to a veteran’s community in Taoyuan County.
The “small three links,” which allow limited transportation, postal and trade exchanges between Xiamen, Mawei and Quanzhou in China’s Fujian Province and the islands of Kinmen and Matsu, are regarded as the first steps to the eventual three links that liberalized cross-strait activities.
In delivering her cross-strait speech during a visit to Kinmen on Wednesday, Tsai said she had established the “small three links” in January 2001 and initiated a breakthrough in cross-strait relations.
Amid his recent debates with Tsai over cross-strait policies, Ma blamed former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) for failing to carry out his promise to push for direct cross-strait flights during his eight-year tenure and warned that cross-strait relations could suffer setbacks if Tsai were elected.
“Chairperson Tsai is still opposing the ‘1992 consensus,’ and we are worried that if she is elected, cross-strait relations would return to how they were when Chen was in power and this would have serious consequences for Taiwan,” Ma said.
In addition to visiting veterans’ communities, Ma, accompanied by local party legislators, also visited local markets during his stay in Taoyuan to consolidate support.
He will travel to Greater Kaohsiung today for campaign activities and return to Taipei City at night to join the city’s annual New Year’s Eve countdown party in front of the Taipei City Hall.