President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday touted the dividends stemming from peace across the Taiwan Strait at a social gathering of Taiwanese businessmen working in China.
Noting that the image of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) can now be seen in almost every advertisement by Taiwanese banks soliciting business for Chinese currency deposits, the president said it was in sharp contrast with his childhood, when Taiwanese authorities had vowed to eliminate Mao and reclaim China by force.
Both sides of the Strait have come a long way in putting aside hostilities and reaching out to each other, said the president, whose administration has gone out its way to seek reconciliation with Beijing.
Speaking at a Lunar New Year event organized by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) for Taiwanese businessmen working in China, the president said his administration was working to cement ties with Beijing, exchange offices for the foundation and Beijing’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and revamp Taiwanese laws governing relations between people on both sides of the Strait.
The president said his policy to seek reconciliation with China had created 150,000 jobs in Taiwan and attracted NT$900 million (US$30 million) in Chinese investment over the past five years.
Furthermore, Ma said his administration was going to allow more Chinese students, including Chinese college graduates who wanted to pursue university degrees, to come to Taiwan to study.
“Allowing young people on both sides to know more about each other in a free situation will pave the way for long-term peace between Taiwan and China,” Ma said.
He added that his administration, especially the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the foundation, thoroughly understood the problems facing Taiwanese businesspeople in China and would spare no effort to protect their interests.
Having already signed 18 agreements with China, Ma said his administration was in a stronger position than ever to protect them.
Meanwhile, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said during the same event that Taipei was planning on consulting Beijing soon about a timeline for negotiations relating to the exchange of offices between the foundation and ARATS.
He promised to carry out the negotiations under public scrutiny, saying that his council would bear in mind public opinion before entering any talks.
SEF Chairman Lin Join-sane (林中森) said later that Taipei and Beijing had exchanged views unofficially on the issue last month and both had agreed on the need for exchanging offices.