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  • President Ma meets Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer
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President Ma meets Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. President Ma exchanges ideas with Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. President Ma welcomes Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer.
President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of February 17 with Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. During the meeting, the president remarked that over the past three-plus years the government has embraced a principle of "minimizing risks and maximizing opportunities" as it has sought to promote the development of cross-strait relations. This policy has brought greater stability to cross-strait relations than has been seen at any other time over the past 60 years.

President Ma stated that the improvement of cross-strait relations is an extremely important form of risk management. Over the past three-plus years, his administration has adopted a principle of "minimizing risks and maximizing opportunities" in its dealings with mainland China. In addition to the signing of 16 cross-strait agreements, trade between Taiwan and mainland China last year hit US$150 billion. And despite these close trade relations, the proportion of Taiwan's exports heading to Hong Kong and mainland China over the past four years has remained constant at about 40% of overall trade. This highlights the fact that Taiwan is not becoming increasingly reliant on the mainland Chinese market. At the same time, Taiwan is working proactively to cooperate with other nations. For instance, the president pointed out, Taiwan and Japan last year signed the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement, and Taiwan is currently engaged in talks with Singapore and New Zealand on economic cooperation agreements.

President Ma furthermore stated that the number of jurisdictions that now provide Taiwanese with visa-free courtesies or landing visas has risen to 126, a considerable increase from the 54 prior to his taking office in May 2008. This shows that an improvement in cross-strait relations makes the international community more willing to improve its relations with Taiwan, and it also means that Taiwan's policy of "building up Taiwan while linking with the Asia-Pacific region and creating a global presence" has opened up a path via which Taiwan can maintain peaceful and stable relations with the United States, mainland China, and Japan, the world's three largest economic entities, he pointed out.

The president then turned the topic to mainland China's growing military budget. President Ma explained to Dr. Bremmer that Taiwan has no interest in engaging in an arms race with mainland China. Rather, Taiwan has introduced a concept of “three lines of defense”—institutionalization of cross-strait rapprochement, enhancing Taiwan's contributions to international development, and aligning Taiwan's defense with diplomacy—to create a favorable environment and atmosphere in which the other side of the Taiwan Strait will not resort to non-peaceful means to resolve disputes, or unilaterally change the status quo. This policy is aimed at creating a deterrent effect, and the “three lines of defense” are more effective than a purely military approach.

President Ma also mentioned that an election for the president and vice president of the ROC, as well as for legislators, was held earlier this year. Hundreds of millions of people in mainland China watched via the Internet as presidential debates, political rallies, and the tallying of ballots proceeded. The people of mainland China were able to see democracy in action in Taiwan, and it made a deep impression on many people. This shows that Taiwan's existence provides an important contrast vis-à-vis the mainland.

President Ma reiterated that the government will continue to make every effort to forge Taiwan into a peacemaker, a provider of humanitarian aid, a promoter of cultural ties, a creator of new technologies and business opportunities, as well as a standard-bearer of Chinese culture, thereby enabling the world to understand that Taiwan is an asset to the global community.

Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer, Eurasia Group Asia Analyst Nicholas Consonery, and independent consultant James Peng (彭智明) were accompanied to the Presidential Office by Council for Economic Planning and Development Deputy Minister Hu Chung-ying (胡仲英), and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of North American Affairs Bruce J. D. Linghu (令狐榮達) to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting was National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Chih-kung Liu (劉志攻).
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