President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday that he was pleased US President Barack Obama had praised the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) and its impact on relations across the Taiwan Strait, adding that the compliment showed international recognition of the pact.
Meeting Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) at the White House on Wednesday, Obama said the ECFA has promoted communication between Taipei and Beijing.
“The statement is an indication that President Ma’s persistence in improving cross-strait relations has withstood scrutiny and been well-received by the international community,” Presidential Office spokesman Lo Chih-chiang (羅智強) said.
Lo said Ma was gratified that Obama had recognized the importance of the economic pact and that his administration would continue its efforts to push for peaceful cross-strait relations.
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also lauded the ECFA last week in a speech on US relations with China, Lo said, adding that well-known academics had followed suit.
Signed in June last year, the ECFA took effect in September amid fears that it could adversely impact Taiwan’s traditional industries and the nation’s sovereignty.
Obama’s praise for the pact, Lo said, undercut claims that the ECFA would be disastrous for Taiwan.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it felt the US remained committed to its “six assurances” during a recent series of briefings by US officials on the topics that were expected to be discussed by Hu and Obama in Washington.
In a press statement, the ministry said: “The Taiwan Relations Act [TRA], the six assurances and the three China-US joint communiques comprising the US’ ‘one China’ policy ... have been reaffirmed by US administrations over the years.”
In 1982, after the US signed the 817 Communique with China pledging to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan, then-US president Ronald Reagan provided “six assurances” to Taipei.
The “six assurances” reaffirmed the US’ policy not to set a cutoff date for arms sales to Taiwan, not to consult with China on arms sales, not to undertake the role of mediator between Taiwan and China, not to revise the TRA, to affirm that the US position regarding sovereignty over Taiwan and its associated islands had not changed and not to pressure Taipei into beginning negotiations with Beijing.
Asked why the ministry linked the six assurances to the Obama-Hu meeting when they had not been mentioned, an official said: “We ‘felt’ the US commitment to the promise in our bilateral communications.”
The last public mention of the six assurances was made by then-assistant US secretary of state for East Asia and the Pacific James Kelly during a speech in 2002, the official said.
At a press conference, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang (章計平) said: “The US government has been consistent in abiding by the six assurances since they became policy in 1982.”
The Hu-Obama joint statement saw the US reiterate its position in the 2009 joint statement that it “welcomes the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait.”
Chang denied that the statement suggested the US was pushing Taiwan to enter political negotiations with China, talks that Ma has said are not on his agenda.
“One should not interpret this as the US pressuring [Taiwan to start political negotiations with China], which would be inconsistent with [point six of the] six assurances,” Chang said.
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