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President Ma meets US State of Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie

President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of July 11 with a delegation led by Governor Neil Abercrombie of the US State of Hawaii. During the meeting, President Ma commented that the ROC and New Zealand on July 10 this year signed the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC), which marks the first step in Taiwan's quest to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The president expressed hope that friendly relations will continue to be strengthened between Taiwan and the United States, and Taiwan and the State of Hawaii in particular.

In remarks, the president stated that last November Taiwan formally became a member of the US Visa Waiver Program, which has paved the way for even more frequent interaction between the two sides. The president noted that Governor Abercrombie arrived in Taipei on the first Hawaiian Airlines commercial flight linking Honolulu and Taipei. The president further stated that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the inking of a sister state agreement between the State of Hawaii and Taiwan Province, making this visit all the more meaningful.

The president stated that Hawaii and the ROC have traditionally had a close relationship. The ROC's founding father Dr. Sun Yat-sen was educated at the Iolani School and Oahu College in Hawaii, and current US President Barack Obama is also an alumnus of Oahu College, which now operates under the name Punahou School. Furthermore, the president said, Dr. Sun while in Honolulu founded the Xing-zhong Hui (Revive China Society) (興中會) in 1894, a revolutionary organization of over 30 individuals, including the owners of restaurants and workers at laundry shops. Seventeen years later, Asia's first democratic republic was founded in China, he remarked.

President Ma stated that the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 changed the destiny of the ROC. Prior to that event, the ROC had been in the War of Resistance Against Japan for four years on its own, but the resources of the ROC, an agricultural nation at that time, were extremely stretched in fighting an industrial power. The situation was extremely precarious for the ROC. After the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan, however, the United States declared war against Japan, and the ROC followed suit. After that point, assistance provided by the United States played an important role in helping the ROC emerge victorious in the war, he said. President Ma pointed to one example, saying that several years prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor, the ROC Air Force had virtually been obliterated, and the ROC's only response to Japanese air raids was defensive in nature. Starting from the year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, however, the situation in the skies over the ROC improved considerably in large part due to the Flying Tigers squadron of the United States, he said. The Flying Tigers in just a seven-month period were able to destroy 300 Japanese planes, he noted. In their joint war effort, the ROC and the United States cooperated closely and were able to hold Japan's large army and air force in check, which prevented Japan from devoting all of its resources to the war in the Pacific, he said.

President Ma told Governor Abercrombie that three years ago he had the opportunity to visit the battleship USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor and relive in his mind the scene on the deck where Japan surrendered to the Allied forces on September 2, 1945. In that year, he remarked, Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and the Cairo Declaration, thus relinquishing its claim to sovereignty over Taiwan and, under the terms of the Cairo Declaration, returning Taiwan to the ROC. These historical facts highlight the close relationship between the ROC and Hawaii, the president stated.

In discussing cooperative ties between the two sides, President Ma stated that the ROC and Hawaii's East-West Center on December 13, 2012, signed a memorandum of understanding on a Pacific Islands Leadership Partnership (PILP) program. Under this initiative, he said, the ROC and the US governments are working together to train government officials from Pacific island nations. In addition, he commented, Hawaii is a leader in the United States with respect to clean energy and renewable energies. Last year, Taichung City government and Hawaii signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Clean Energy Cooperation, and the president expressed hope that the two sides will continue to engage in mutually beneficial cooperation in this regard.

President Ma also mentioned that he was invited to the United States as an Asia-Pacific student leader in January 1971, and he made his first visit to Hawaii on that trip, which deeply impressed upon him the importance of Hawaii to the United States and Asia. He said he remembers clearly how students from the University of Hawaii engaged in a model government project formulated plans to assist nations in the Pacific region and promote a "green revolution" to increase the output of staple foods in India. Lastly, the president welcomed the delegation to Taiwan on behalf of the government and people of the ROC. He also expressed hope that the two sides will continue working to promote bilateral interaction and exchanges to add further depth to the relationship.

The delegation was escorted to the Presidential Office by Director Christopher J. Marut of the American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office to meet President Ma. Also attending the meeting were National Security Council Secretary-General Jason C. Yuan (袁健生) and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ting Joseph Shih (石定).

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