President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday defended his low-profile stopover in New York while en route to Paraguay, insisting that a high-profile transit would adversely affect on the nation’s relations with the US.
“Overemphasizing the stopover in the US is not a goal. The press is after more high-profile scenes, but I cannot be cooperative all the time. We must consider how [the US] feels and the limitations they set up,” he said when meeting with the press during his trip in Paraguay.
Ma was in New York on a transit stop en route to a five-nation diplomatic tour that includes visits to Haiti, Paraguay and Taiwan’s four allies in the Caribbean.
While meeting with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a branch of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association in New York’s Chinatown amid his tight schedule, Ma maintained a low profile during the brief stopover, sparking concerns that the president had conducted poor transit diplomacy with his zero-surprises approach.
Ma insisted that since his previous stopovers in the US, his administration has reached a tacit understanding with Washington that he would not make things difficult for the US government.
“The goal of the trip is [to visit] the Central and Southern Americas, and we do what we can when we have the chance during the stopover. The US government in the past indicated its concern about some high-profile activities, so we don’t plan to force anything,” he said.
The US-Taiwan relations had suffered a setback before he assumed office in 2008, and the government has worked to rebuild mutual trust between the two nations step by step, he said, insisting that striving for more stopover activities would not necessarily improve Taiwan-US relations.
While touting Taiwan-US relations, Ma said his administration will continue to push for him to attend this year’s APEC summit in Indonesia.
Former vice president Lien Chan (連戰) has served as Ma’s envoy at the annual summit over the past years.
Ma said it is unfair that the nation’s president is not allowed to attend the summit, and the government would seek for him to attend at the meeting as the leader of an economic entity.
Ma was in Paraguay to attend the inauguration of the president-elect Horacio Cartes yesterday.
He will also visit Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines before returning to Taiwan on Thursday next week.
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