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President Ma makes transit stop in Los Angeles, California on trip back to Taiwan

After concluding his trip to three allies of the ROC in Africa and Central America, President Ma Ying-jeou, on his return to Taiwan, made a transit stop in Los Angeles, California, arriving at Los Angeles International Airport at 9:55 p.m. on January 27 local time (1:55 p.m. January 28 Taipei time).

After President Ma's chartered aircraft came to a halt on the tarmac, ROC Representative to the United States Pu-tsung King (金溥聰) and American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond F. Burghardt boarded the plane to welcome him. The president and his delegation then departed the airport for the hotel where they would stay for one night.

On the evening of the following day, President Ma attended a dinner banquet participated by members of the overseas compatriot community. He briefed those in attendance about the progress associated with the ROC's efforts in recent years to create more room for itself in the international community and to forge stronger cross-strait relations.

The president stated that during this trip he first visited the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe in West Africa, following which he stopped in Burkina Faso, another diplomatic partner of the ROC in the region. He then headed to the Republic of Honduras to attend the inauguration ceremonies for that nation's President Juan Orlando Hernandez. President Ma said that he has travelled over 23,000 kilometers on this trip, making it the longest distance he has covered on any trip he has made overseas.

The president commented that this trip has enabled him to obtain a deeper understanding for the achievements associated with the humanitarian aid that the ROC has provided to its allies. This, he stated, demonstrates that the ROC, as a developed nation, is taking an active stance in providing assistance to its diplomatic partners.

President Ma also pointed out the various achievements by the ROC in the diplomatic sphere last year. He mentioned that in February, Taiwan and the United States signed a revised version of the Agreement on Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities, providing personnel stationed by both countries in the other with greater protections. In March, Taiwan and the United States resumed negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, he said, which is conducive to promoting economic and trade relations between the two sides. In April, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement that resolved a 40-year dispute between the two countries, he noted. The president added that in May, Taiwan attended the World Health Assembly for the fifth consecutive year as an observer, which is helping to expand ROC's participation in the international community. Then in June, Taiwan, as a "fishing entity," joined the Convention on the Conservation and Management of High Seas Fisheries Resources in the North Pacific Ocean, in which parties are mainly sovereign states. This fully demonstrates the strength of Taiwan's fisheries industry, he said.

President Ma remarked that in July of last year Taiwan signed the ANZTEC free trade agreement with New Zealand, which marked the first economic cooperation agreement that Taiwan had signed with a nation with which it does not have diplomatic relations. He also pointed out that New Zealand is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and that the signing of the ANZTEC will create conditions conducive to Taiwan eventually entering the TPP. In August, the president said, Taiwan and the Philippines completed negotiations related to the Guang Da Xing No. 28 fishing boat incident, in which a Philippine government vessel fired at a Taiwanese fishing boat, damaging the boat and killing a fisherman. The Philippines agreed to apologize, provide compensation, and punish those responsible. In addition, both sides, he remarked, have reached a consensus to avoid use of force in the course of implementing laws and also initiate a mutual notification mechanism. Then in September, Taiwan attended the 38th Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada, the first time since the ROC lost its representation in the United Nations 42 years ago. In response to this development, President Ma expressed his gratitude to the US Congress for passing the bills to support Taiwan's participation in the ICAO.

President Ma further mentioned that in October of last year former Vice President Vincent C. Siew (蕭萬長), who attended the 21st APEC Economic Leaders' meeting on his behalf, engaged in discussions with mainland Chinese leader Xi Jinping (習近平) and US Secretary of State John F. Kerry. In addition, he said, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-Chi (王郁琦) and mainland China's Minister of Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) referred to each other there using their official titles for the first time. The president stated that this highlights the constructive interaction between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. In November, he said, former Vice President Siew also led a delegation of business leaders from Taiwan to the United States to participate in the SelectUSA investment initiative and to seek business opportunities and avenues for cooperation. In the same month, Taiwan and Singapore, its fifth largest trading partner, signed the ASTEP free trade agreement, he added.

Looking ahead, President Ma said that in January of this year the Executive Yuan's Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics revised upward Taiwan's economic growth for last year to 2.19%. In addition, the economic monitoring indicator in the same month returned to the "green signal", he said. This proves that "this year is sure to be better than last year," the president commented.

As for progress in cross-strait relations, President Ma stated, since he took office in 2008, Taiwan and mainland China have signed 19 agreements and reached consensus on two issues, making the cross-strait relations the most peaceful and stable it has been in the past 60 years.

Lastly, the president emphasized that he has encountered much pressure while seeking to carry out many reforms in Taiwan. However, he said, he continues to resolve various issues on a step-by-step basis in order to ensure long-term stability and social harmony. Furthermore, he stated, he is striving to create a peaceful and prosperous international environment that will be beneficial to Taiwan. In the future, the president said, there will be "no turning back" and he must "move forward in a bold manner." He expressed hope that overseas compatriots will be able to work closely with the ROC government, helping to pave brand new horizons for the nation.

After completing the brief transit stop, President Ma and his delegation left for the airport. Their chartered aircraft departed at 10:30 p.m. local time on January 28 (2:30 p.m. January 29 Taipei time), heading back to Taiwan. This brought to a successful conclusion of the trip.

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