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  • President Ma meets delegation from Project 2049 Institute
  • Date
President Ma meets delegation from Project 2049 Institute. President Ma welcomes delegation from Project 2049 Institute. President Ma exchanges ideas with delegation from Project 2049 Institute. President Ma welcomes visitors from Project 2049 Institute.
President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of March 27 with Mr. Richard L. Armitage, the leader of a delegation to Taiwan from the Project 2049 Institute. In addition to reiterating Taiwan's determination to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within 10 years, the president also stressed that Taiwan is committed to creating the conditions that will enable it to be an integral player in regional economic integration.

The president remarked that Mr. Armitage, who is a former US deputy secretary of state, in March of last year headed a delegation from the Project 2049 Institute to Taiwan, and heading up this group again demonstrates the importance that he places on Taiwan. In addition, the president commented that on January 14 this year, the ROC elected its 13th-term president and vice president in a smooth process which showed that Taiwan is becoming an increasingly mature democracy. After the election, Mr. Armitage immediately sent him a message of congratulations on winning another term, and the president expressed his deepest appreciation for this gesture.

President Ma stated that cross-strait relations affect Taiwan's ability to secure breathing room for itself on the international stage, which is why, at the time of his inauguration four years ago, he declared his intention to adopt a three-no's policy of "no unification, no independence, and no use of force" under the framework of the ROC Constitution, and is also why he has actively sought peace between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. President Ma mentioned that incipient signs of peace have emerged in the Taiwan Strait and tensions between the two sides have been significantly reduced. He also noted that the two sides have signed 16 agreements.

President Ma furthermore said that in addition to the improvement in cross-strait relations, Taiwan's position in the international community has strengthened considerably in recent years. In particular, thanks to the support of the United States and other friends around the world, three years ago Taiwan was able to participate in the World Health Assembly, which has paved the way for increasingly close relations between Taiwan and the World Health Organization. During last year's meeting, the US secretary of health even held a press conference during which she proclaimed that no United Nations-affiliated organization can unilaterally decide Taiwan's status. President Ma remarked that this was the clearest statement regarding the ROC's status that the United States has ever made.

President Ma stressed that the cross-strait relationship and Taiwan's relations with the international community are complementary, constituting a virtuous circle. For instance, in light of the improvement of cross-strait ties, a total of 126 countries and areas around the world now provide visa-free courtesies or landing visas for Taiwanese visitors. Meanwhile, relations between Taiwan and Japan have also advanced considerably, he said, pointing to Taiwan's opening of a representative office in Sapporo, the establishment of direct flights between Taipei's Songshan Airport and Tokyo's Haneda Airport, and the signing of a bilateral investment agreement. In addition, Taiwan was the largest donor to Japan after that nation experienced the catastrophic March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The people of Taiwan raised money equivalent to around 20 billion yen in donations within a two-month period, compared with total donations of 17.5 billion yen from 93 other countries. The people of Japan have thus been made keenly aware of the deep friendship that the people of Taiwan feel for Japan.

President Ma also mentioned that the relationship between Taiwan and the United States has reached new heights. Project 2049 Institute President and CEO Randall Schriver has repeatedly refuted in public the argument of "abandon Taiwan." Last October, Mr. Schriver and the Taiwan-based Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies held a research seminar called "The ROC-US-Japan Trilateral Conference: Security Dialogue." At the same time, Taiwan and the United States engage in dialogue under the principle of "low key" and "no surprises." The United States, the president said, has in recent years agreed to sell Taiwan a total of US$18.3 billion of arms, which is the most ever.

The president also stated that Taiwan hopes that in the second half of this year Taiwan will gain formal entry into the US Visa Waiver Program. Based on past experience, after the UK granted visa-free treatment to Taiwanese, the number of visitors to the UK from Taiwan grew 150% within one year. Meanwhile, visits to the European Union by Taiwanese persons increased by more than 30% after the EU granted Taiwanese visa-free entry. Consequently, he said that if the United States provides visa-free entry to people from Taiwan, the number of visitors from Taiwan to the United States, which presently stands at about 400,000 annually, is sure to increase. At the same time, this will help to spark spending in the United States and improve the trade imbalance between Taiwan and the United States.

President Ma furthermore remarked that the "Golden Decade" white paper clearly states Taiwan's policy goal of joining the TPP, which concords well with the position voiced by US President Barack Obama when he attended the APEC leaders meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii last November. In the future, the president said, the ROC government will continue to pursue cross-strait peace and prosperity. It will also seek to strengthen the Taiwan-US relationship and avoid being marginalized in the course of regional economic integration. President Ma stated that Taiwan expects to achieve the necessary conditions to join the TPP within 10 years as part of its initiative to participate in regional economic integration.

The delegation was accompanied to the Presidential Office by American Institute in Taiwan Deputy Director Eric H. Madison to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting were National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Chih-kung Liu (劉志攻), Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tung Kuoyu (董國猷), and Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of North American Affairs Bruce J. D. Linghu (令狐榮達).
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