On the morning of September 16, President Ma Ying-jeou attended the opening ceremonies for an exhibit entitled "Hello, Mr. President! A Panorama Review of ROC-USA Summit Diplomacy." The president praised the exhibit for helping the public to reflect on critical events and decisions of the past while considering what may lie ahead, and he called for further strengthening of bilateral ties so that the relationship can reach new heights.
In remarks, President Ma stated that the ROC has continuously faced challenges since it was established in 1912, but since the government relocated to Taiwan the United States and the ROC have engaged in active cooperation and established mutual trust and mutual assistance.
In looking back at summit diplomacy between the two countries, President Ma stated that leaders had important meetings on two occasions, the first being before the government moved to Taiwan. This instance was in late November in 1943 at the Cairo Conference. The second time was in 1960 when former US President Dwight D. Eisenhower visited Taiwan.
The president noted that the leaders attending the Cairo Conference adopted the Cairo Declaration, which demanded that all the territories that Japan had taken from China, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores, be restored to the Republic of China. President Ma pointed out that the British representative to the conference originally did not agree to include this statement, instead only supporting the statement that Japan should be stripped of all islands other than its four primary islands. However, the president stated that the ROC representative to the meeting Wang Chung-hui (王寵惠) was adamant that the clause be included and the representative from the United States also strongly supported this. Ultimately, he said, the version put forward by the ROC was passed. This marked a crucial juncture in history, as "without the Cairo Declaration, it is quite possible that we would not have the opportunity to have this event here today," the president commented.
President Ma further stated that in 1954 President Eisenhower and the ROC signed the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, and six years later President Eisenhower visited the ROC. President Ma said that last month the ROC commemorated the 55th anniversary of the August 23 Artillery War of 1958 in Kinmen. This war signaled the determination and willingness of the United States to honor the treaty, he noted, adding that thanks to the large amount of assistance provided by the American side at that time, the bombardment ended after 44 days, thus restoring peace in the Taiwan Strait.
The president mentioned that following the severing of relations between the ROC and the United States in 1979, President Ronald Reagan in 1982, prior to the issuing of the China-US August 17 Communiqué, made a set of "Six Assurances" to Taiwan, thus ensuring that Taiwan and the United States would continue to maintain military cooperation. In 1991, he said, President Gerald R. Ford was the first non-standing US president to visit Taiwan since the severing of relations between the two countries. In 1996, President Bill Clinton dispatched an aircraft carrier battle group to maintain safety in the Taiwan Strait, which, President Ma said, proved the determination of the United States to maintain peace and stability in the region. President Ma also noted that President George H. W. Bush in 1992 agreed to sell the ROC 150 F-16A/B series fighter jets, which was of enormous benefit in helping Taiwan to defend itself. President Ma stated that all of these policies, which were adopted before he took office, were important to maintenance of the bilateral relationship.
President Ma also remarked that five years ago when he was elected president, President George W. Bush sent him a message of congratulations praising the just-concluded elections as free and fair. President Bush also mentioned in the message that "Taiwan is a beacon of democracy to Asia and the world," which was deeply gratifying to the public here, he said.
President Ma furthermore noted that four days after President Bush sent him the message of congratulations, President Bush and then mainland Chinese leader Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) spoke over the phone about Taiwan. Mr. Hu stated that Taiwan and mainland China both recognize the "one China" principle, and expressed his hope to resume negotiations with Taiwan on this basis. Mr. Hu also specially mentioned the "1992 Consensus," under which each side acknowledges the existence of "one China" but maintains its own interpretation of what that means. Subsequently, President Ma said, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait quickly resumed negotiations on the basis of the "1992 Consensus." The United States has had high praise for the ROC's efforts to create an opportunity for reconciliation in the Taiwan Strait. Both President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama have expressed strong support for the improvement in cross-strait relations. President Ma added that this is the first time the ROC has been able to strengthen relations with both the United States and mainland China at the same time, which has truly helped to forge peace and prosperity in the Taiwan Strait.
President Ma emphasized that while the ROC and the United States presently do not maintain formal diplomatic relations, both share the universal values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and rule of law. In fact, he said, since taking office he has promoted relations between the two countries under the principle of "low key, no surprises." This has restored mutual trust at the highest levels and enabled the two sides to forge close relations in many areas, including security and trade, he said, noting that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton once stated that Taiwan is an important security and economic partner of the United States, which accurately describes the current state of ties between the two sides.
After concluding his remarks, President Ma and other important guests jointly cut a ribbon to mark the opening of the exhibit. They also walked through the exhibition hall, looking at the photographs and documents on display. Among those attending the ceremony were Secretary-General to the President Timothy Chin-Tien Yang (楊進添), National Security Council Secretary-General Jason C. Yuan (袁健生), Minister of Foreign Affairs David Y. L. Lin (林永樂), Central Election Commission Chairperson Chang Po-ya (張博雅), Overseas Community Affairs Council Vice Minister Roy Yuan-Rong Leu (呂元榮), President Mary Jean Eisenhower of the People to People International, Director Christopher J. Marut of the American Institute in Taiwan Taipei Office, and the head of the diplomatic corps in Taiwan Jacques Y. Sawadogo (Burkina Faso Ambassador to the ROC).