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President Ma Attends Opening of 2009 Asia-Pacific International Leadership Conference

President Ma Ying-jeou on the morning of January 17 was invited to attend the opening of the 2009 Asia-Pacific International Leadership Conference. The event, hosted by the Universal Peace Federation, is being held at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. President Ma, on behalf of the government and people of the ROC (Taiwan), extended a welcome to the representatives from 16 nations and areas that have come here to attend the meeting.

President Ma expressed his admiration for the delegates, who he said are striving to realize the mission of the Universal Peace Federation, which is to "build a world of peace, a world in which everyone can live in freedom, harmony, cooperation and co-prosperity." He said that the theme of this year's conference, "Toward a New Paradigm of Leadership and Good Governance for the Development and Peace in the Asia Pacific," jibes with the gradual development of the Asia-Pacific region as a new center for global development in the 21st century.

The president commented that two potential flash points exist in East Asia. One is the Korean Peninsula and the other is the Taiwan Strait. In the eight months since his administration has taken office, he said that it has made every effort in the pursuit of peace not just in the Asia-Pacific region, but also throughout the world, and has achieved the results seen in recent months. The two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been engaged in military conflict and international confrontation for over 60 years. The new government here resumed negotiations between the two sides that had been stalled for 10 years. The realization of the three direct links between Taiwan and Mainland China has ushered in a new era in relations between the two sides. This, he said, is advantageous for regional and world peace.

In the face of the threat by missiles aimed at Taiwan by Mainland China, President Ma said Taiwan is still striving to foster trade normalization between the two sides. Taiwan has also urged Mainland China to abandon its zero-sum game on the international arena. Valuable resources should not be used to try to woo diplomatic allies from either side. Rather, negotiation should replace hostility, he said. President Ma added that Taiwan hopes to continue to extend this good will in order to make a contribution to world peace. He stressed that Taiwan is a peacemaker and not a troublemaker, saying that Taiwan must remember the lessons from the past and do what it can to prevent the outbreak of war. Everyone must work together to create peace, he said, since prosperity and dignity can only be brought about through peace.

In speaking on economic topics, President Ma expressed to those attending the conference that Taiwan has a healthy economic structure and that the banking system is operating well with the support provided by the government. The national saving rate is nearly 30%. He said that amid the joint efforts of the government and the private sector, it is hoped that economy will begin to rebound in the third quarter of this year. The president also said that it is less than 10 days until the Chinese Lunar New Year and that the government will issue the consumption vouchers to the public on January 18. Now is the perfect time to shop, he said. The president invited the conference participants to shop during their stay in Taiwan, helping to invigorate the local economy.

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