President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he is aware of the hopes of Catholic leaders for world peace and said he hopes that tensions between Taiwan and China can be reduced through reconciliation so as to promote peace in East Asia.
Ma made the remarks while receiving a delegation from the Vatican, including Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz and Father Franco Imoda.
Ma said that upon taking office in 2008, his first goal was to reduce cross-strait tensions through reconciliation, in an effort to promote peace in East Asia.
He said that at the time, there were two major flashpoints in East Asia — the Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Strait. Five years later, while there is still the possibility of war on the Korean Peninsula, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are moving toward peace and prosperity, Ma said.
He said Taiwan attracts many foreign missionaries because it upholds freedom of religion.
Like the Holy See, Taiwan is concerned about Catholics in China, and has organized training and lectures for Chinese clergy in the past few years to improve their understanding of the Vatican, Ma said, adding that the training programs have won great recognition from the Holy See.
Ma expressed the hope that Taiwan could play multiple roles in the world — a peacemaker, a provider of humanitarian aid, a promoter of cultural exchanges, a creator of new technologies and business opportunities and a leader in Chinese culture.
Through such constructive roles, Taiwan could increase its presence in the international community, Ma said.