President Ma Ying-jeou met on the morning of December 11 with American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond F. Burghardt. In addition to welcoming Chairman Burghardt to Taiwan, the president also explained recent progress made by the government in Taiwan's relations with the United States and the international community.
In remarks, President Ma first thanked Chairman Burghardt for accompanying him during his transit stops in New York and Los Angeles this past August when he led a delegation from Taiwan to allies in South America and the Caribbean. The president remarked that during those stopovers he interacted with a number of members of Congress and officials from the US administration.
President Ma stated that substantive progress has been seen recently in Taiwan's relations with the United States and the international community. First, thanks to the assistance of the United States, Taiwan in September of this year was invited to attend the general assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) as a special guest, the first time in 42 years that Taiwan had attended an ICAO assembly. Taiwan's participation in the organization will enable it to obtain aviation information firsthand and more effectively oversee the Taipei Flight Information Region, he said. Second, following the signing in July of the Agreement between New Zealand and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Cooperation (ANZTEC), Taiwan and Singapore in November signed the Agreement between Singapore and the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu on Economic Partnership (ASTEP), he noted. The ASTEP marked the second economic cooperation agreement that Taiwan has signed with a nation with which it does not maintain formal diplomatic ties, the president said. He added that both New Zealand and Singapore are members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, so the agreements with these nations help to create conditions that will facilitate Taiwan's participation in regional economic integration.
In discussing economic and trade relations between Taiwan and the United States, President Ma stated that in October of this year former Vice President Vincent C. Siew (蕭萬長) attended the 21st APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting on his behalf and held bilateral discussions with US Secretary of State John Kerry. Among other issues, the talks focused on cooperation between Taiwan and the United States in the economic and trade spheres, as well as Taiwan's prospects for joining the TPP. Then last month, the president said, former Vice President Siew led a delegation of high-level business leaders to the United States to meet with important US business leaders. During the meetings, the delegation from Taiwan expressed its willingness to invest in the United States and support the SelectUSA investment initiative, he remarked. President Ma expressed hope that this platform can be used to promote related activities, thereby strengthening bilateral trade, economic, and investment relations.
Regarding mainland China's announcement of its East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) on November 23, President Ma emphasized that the ROC government immediately convened a National Security Council meeting and issued a four-point statement. Included in the statement is a declaration that the ROC has sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islets and is committed to protecting the safety of Taiwanese fishermen operating in the area. Furthermore, the president called attention once again to the East China Sea Peace Initiative, and urged all parties involved to refrain from antagonistic actions so as to resolve the dispute over overlapping ADIZs via bilateral negotiations.
President Ma further explained that the ROC demarcated its ADIZ in 1953, and portions of the ROC's ADIZ overlap with the East China Sea ADIZ recently announced by mainland China. In fact, he noted, Taiwan's ADIZ prior to 2004 was even bigger than it is now. When the Democratic Progressive Party held power here, he said, it downsized the ADIZ. President Ma stated the government has repeatedly stressed that the ROC's armed forces will continue with their training activities as normal in Taiwan's ADIZ, and the military here has not discovered any incursions by mainland Chinese airplanes into Taiwan's ADIZ. He also noted that mainland China did not consult with Taiwan prior to its announcement, and that Taiwan has already used various avenues to express its serious concern to mainland Chinese authorities.
In addition, the president mentioned, when Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) receives a request from an airline company, it will relay the flight plans for civil aircraft that pass through the ADIZ to the mainland China authorities. He pointed out that the United States and Korea have already allowed their airlines to submit flight plans to mainland China, and Japan has a flight notification mechanism for all but two airlines, he said, adding that Taiwan's main consideration is the safety of civil aircraft. For instance, CAA Director General Shen Chi (沈啟), when responding to questions from lawmakers, explained that Taiwan's ADIZ and Japan's ADIZ overlap by one degree of longitude, and that since the commencement of direct flights between Taiwan and mainland China, civilian aircraft from Taiwan flying to mainland cities such as Qingdao or Dalian have had flight paths that pass through the overlapping areas. At the request of Japan, the president said, Taiwan provides flight information to Japan, which is not the first time such a set-up has been seen. He stated that civilian aircraft flying through overlapping ADIZs have been intercepted by Japanese military aircraft or had their radio communications jammed. But this hasn't happened since the middle of last year, the president remarked, which means that the government's placing of top priority on passenger safety has won the support of all parties involved.