President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), seeking re-election in tomorrow’s election, yesterday stressed his goal of promoting cross-strait relations at a steady pace, dismissing concerns about his administration’s hasty tilt toward China.
At an international press conference at his campaign headquarters, Ma met with questions about his cross-strait policies and whether Taiwan’s close ties with China under his administration would lead to progress on political issues.
Ma denied moving too fast on his cross-strait policies, saying the two sides of the strait have been enjoying vigorous development, with the amount of cross-strait trade hitting US$100 billion in 2008.
“It’s unbelievable and ridiculous not to have cross-strait direct flights with such an amount of cross-strait trade,” Ma said. “What I have done is simply to make up for the lost eight years [under the then-DPP administration] and the two sides have restored relations as major trade partners. It’s just a normal relationship.”
Since taking the office in 2008, Ma’s administration has worked to improve cross-strait relations, while promising to maintain the “status quo” under his “three noes” principle — no unification, no independence and no use of force, he said.
However, major cross-strait developments, including the launch of direct cross-strait flights, resuming cross-strait negotiations and the signing of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), have sparked concern that the Ma administration has relied too much on China and that the nation is moving toward unification with China under his leadership.
When asked about concerns over the nation’s close ties with China, which has made some voters hesitant to support his re-election bid, Ma insisted his administration was simply setting up a mechanism for cross-strait development, as the two sides have already shared close relations over the years.
“Our relations with the mainland is a step-by-step relationship and we have been very careful when making every move,” he said.
Commenting on China’s expected transfer of power from Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平), Ma said his administration did not see China changing course on cross-strait relations under its new leader and he insisted that the “status quo” would be maintained.
“Cross-strait exchanges allow the mainland to understand us more ... and isn’t it good that we continue to maintain the ‘status quo’ and set up foundations for future cross-strait relations? Should we go to war with the mainland instead?” Ma asked.
He also denied having any plans to visit China as the nation’s president.
“I have absolutely no plans to make such a visit because I am the president of the Republic of China no matter where I go. It would be unacceptable for Taiwanese if I visited the mainland [under another title,]” he said.
The government’s efforts to revitalize the economy via cross-strait developments had not only been felt by big businesses, he said, adding that small vendors and businesses in the tourist industry, for example, had also benefited.