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President Ma’s speech at the videoconference with Stanford University


President Ma Ying-jeou took part in a videoconference on the morning of June 3 with the Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University in the United States. The event was chaired by former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, and featured a panel including Thomas Fingar, former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and former Deputy Chairman of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Military Committee; and Lanhee J. Chen, David and Diane Steffy Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and chief policy adviser to the 2012 US presidential candidate Mitt Romney. After opening greetings by Director of the CDDRL Larry Diamond, and an introduction by Secretary Perry, President Ma delivered an address entitled "True Friendship Lasts Forever" and then fielded questions from the panel and members of the audience before closing with some concluding remarks.
President Ma's opening remarks:

Secretary (William) Perry, Professor (Larry) Diamond,
Dr. (Thomas) Fingar, Ambassador (Karl) Eikenberry,
Dr. (Lanhee) Chen, distinguished guests,
ladies and gentlemen:

Good evening!

I’m very happy to be here for today’s videoconference, jointly sponsored by the Presidential Office of the Republic of China and Stanford University, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ROC’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan. This gives us an opportunity to discuss the historical significance of World War II and the ROC’s Resistance War with some of America’s most distinguished scholars. We will also take a look at current developments in US-ROC relations and cross-strait relations.

Back in April of 2013, the ROC and Stanford held a videoconference with many well-known scholars. It was moderated by former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. That videoconference was a resounding success, so we are very pleased to cooperate with Stanford University again, and trust that we will recreate that success here today.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, as well as the ROC’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan. In July 1937, two years before WWII broke out, ROC forces began fighting against Japanese aggression alone, and for four long years, they continued with virtually no outside help. It wasn’t until the Pearl Harbor attack in December 1941 that the ROC joined forces with the Allies to declare war against Japan, Germany, and Italy.

The ROC’s Resistance War continued for eight years, making it the longest war against foreign aggression in our history. It involved more citizens than any other conflict, and required the most horrifying sacrifices: over three million military personnel and 20 million citizens lost their lives or were seriously injured. Two hundred and sixty-eight generals died in combat. It also had a more lasting impact than any other war in our history.

In his 2014 book Forgotten Ally: China’s World War II, 1937-1945, Oxford University Professor Rana Mitter tells the story of the ROC’s heroic resistance against Japan. Using outdated weapons against massive odds, ROC forces engaged in a “war of resistance to the end” that brooked no surrender, and no compromise. Without outside assistance, ROC forces tied down 800,000 fullymodernized, well-trained Japanese troops, which allowed Allied forces to make counterattacks in both the European and Asian theaters at the same time, and ultimately prevail. Professor Mitter believes that this was China’s great contribution to the Allied Powers in World War II.

The United States proved to be a staunch friend. The most notable example of that friendship was the American Volunteer Group (AVG), organized in 1941 even before the Pearl Harbor attack, a group that became legendary under their nickname: the Flying Tigers.

Before they had been in China for a whole year, the Flying Tigers had shot down nearly 300 Japanese aircraft. Led by Commander Claire Chennault, they thus allowed the ROC’s severely crippled air force to gradually regain its fighting capabilities.

So history tells us very clearly and concretely: when the ROC really needed it, the US was always there to extend a helping hand. The Lend-Lease Act of 1941 and the war materials supplied under the Act are another good example of American friendliness and generosity. That kind of timely assistance, and genuine friendship, are quite touching and inspiring.

This year the ROC government will be holding a series of events to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the War of Resistance Against Japan. And we will be inviting the family of President Roosevelt’s grandson; the granddaughter of General Claire Chennault, the leader of the Flying Tigers; and descendants of General Jimmy Doolittle, leader of the Doolittle Air Raid on Tokyo in April 1942, five months after the Pearl Harbor; the grandson of General Wedemeyer, Chief of Staff of the China Theater from 1944-46; and the granddaughter of missionary Minnie Vautrin, Acting Dean of Ginling Girls College and nicknamed “American Goddess at the Rape of Nanking” in 1937, who helped save the lives of 10,000 Chinese citizens, mostly women, to participate in those events. We will then have a chance to thank them in person for the tremendous contributions that their forebearers made to the Republic of China and its people, no matter how long ago that historic event was.

During the Cold War period following World War II, the friendship between the ROC and the US flourished, as the US continued to help us militarily while providing economic assistance. Between 1950 and 1965, that assistance included US$1.5 billion in economic aid, which is probably worth at least 12 billion now.

The US president for much of that era, Dwight Eisenhower, also made a series of key decisions that had a telling effect on peace in the Taiwan Strait. He signed the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty of 1954, which made the ROC and US military allies again. It was also President Eisenhower who continued to dispatch the 7th Fleet to patrol the Taiwan Strait, pursuant to the Formosa Resolution passed by Congress in 1955. During the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis, President Eisenhower dispatched US naval personnel to provide logistics and convoy for ROC forces stationed in Kinmen and Matsu, the two offshore islands less than 3 kilometers from the Chinese mainland.

President Eisenhower personally visited the ROC in June 1960, shortly before his second term expired, and issued a joint communique with President Chiang Kai-shek. That communique affirmed that under the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty, both parties opposed any provocation involving Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, or Matsu. And that affirmation became the foundation for the ROC’s stable development, and peace in the Taiwan Strait for the next two decades.

Although the ROC and US severed diplomatic ties in 1979, barely three months later, the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Under that Act, Taiwan is treated as a foreign government for purposes of US law and in US courts. The Act also requires the US to provide Taiwan with defensive weapons.

I remember, at that time, one US scholar, Carl Gable commented on America’s change in diplomatic direction. He said that when President Jimmy Carter established formal diplomatic relations with mainland China and cut ties with Taiwan, that amounted to de-recognition of Taiwan by the executive branch. But then when the Taiwan Relations Act was enacted by Congress, keeping intact all but formal diplomatic ties with the ROC, amounted to legislative re-recognition of Taiwan. At that time I was studying law at Harvard. One day I came across Professor Detlev Vagts, supervisor of my doctoral thesis, in the hallway of the library. He said to me, “Ying-jeou, I understand how you felt these days. But I want you to know that Taiwan is the most recognized unrecognized government of the United States.” What happened in the following 36 years is exactly like what Professor Vagts said.

Since I came into office in 2008, mutual ROC-US trust has been restored at the highest levels of government. And over the past two years, there have been frequent, reciprocal visits by high-level officials. In April of last year, US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy visited Taiwan, and Charles Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, is visiting Taiwan now. At the same time, heads of various ROC government agencies have visited the US, so there is a solid foundation of mutual trust there.

For many years, the US government has faithfully fulfilled the provisions of the Taiwan Relations Act, as well as the Six Assurances associated with the Communique of August 17, 1982. And in the seven years since I took office, US arms sales to Taiwan have reached US$18.3 billion. That is the highest total in the past 20 years, and twice what was sold during the previous administration.

And the ROC is also gaining more support in Congress. Just last month during deliberations on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2016, the House and Senate Armed Services Committees both passed initiatives that call for increased US-ROC military exchanges. Those initiatives include inviting the ROC to participate in the Rim of the Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC) and Red Flag training exercises, clearly upgrading bilateral Taiwan-US security cooperation.

In addition to strong security ties, Taiwan-US trade relations have also made significant progress over the last few years. In March of 2013, after a five-year hiatus, we reopened negotiations with the US under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), a platform set up in 1994 to facilitate talks in trade and investment matters. We have continued bilateral consultations in a series of 12 work conferences, and have made significant progress. As of the end of this March, the ROC is America’s 10th largest trading partner, surpassing Brazil and Saudi Arabia, and the US is Taiwan’s third largest, after mainland China and Japan.

Meanwhile, the US decision to let Taiwan join the Visa Waiver Program in November 2012 proves to be a right and popular move. Out of the 38 countries that have such status, Taiwan is the only one that does not have formal diplomatic ties with the US. The number of Taiwan visitors to the US rose about 20%. They not only admire your history and your way of life, they are also serious shoppers. They contribute a lot to narrowing the trade deficit you have with Taiwan.

So all of these things add up. Increased trust at the highest levels, and closer political, economic, and security cooperation show that over the last seven years, Taiwan-US ties are the best they have been in the 36 years since the Taiwan Relations Act was passed. Successive US Secretaries of State, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, have both publicly affirmed that “Taiwan is an important security and economic partner of the United States.” And that’s a pretty good summation of the current state of bilateral Taiwan-US relations.

Let me now turn to cross-strait relations. Since I was elected in 2008 I have been firmly committed, under the framework of the ROC Constitution, to maintaining the status quo in the Taiwan Strait. In this context, the term “status quo” means “no unification, no independence, and no use of force.” I have also remained committed, based on the 1992 Consensus, which is “one China, respective interpretations,” to promoting cross-strait peace and development. These policies have completely transformed the Taiwan Strait—so what was once a flashpoint for conflict is now a haven of peace.

Over the past seven years, Taiwan and mainland China have signed 21 agreements. During that same period, visitors from mainland China have made over 14 million trips to Taiwan, almost four million of them in the past year alone. So the cross-strait situation is more stable and peaceful than it has ever been in the past 66 years.

Progress towards peace and stability in cross-strait relations over the past seven years has had a significant peace dividend: The vicious cycle of cross-strait and foreign relations of the past has become a virtuous cycle. So countries from all over the world have been able to freely interact with both sides of the Taiwan Strait at the same time under the “one China, respective interpretations” concept, an unprecedented development.

In April last year, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel said in Congress that “As a general matter, we very much welcome and applaud the extraordinary progress that has occurred in cross-strait relations under the Ma administration.” In February this year, he also said that “developments in Taiwan-US relations over the past few years have been very constructive—and that progress in cross-strait relations had a lot to do with that.” US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Susan Thornton, also stressed recently that unofficial Taiwan-US relations have never been better. She noted that over the past few years, the stable handling of cross-strait relations has been an important factor in the close cooperation that now characterizes Taiwan-US relations. She went on to say that the benefits that stable cross-strait ties have brought to both sides of the Taiwan Strait, the United States, and the region have been enormous. It is important that both sides of the Taiwan Strait understand the importance of these benefits and work to establish a basis for continued peace and stability. Maintaining close communication and a no-surprise, low-key approach has allowed all parties to demonstrate restraint and flexibility. We want to see this approach continue.

So this marks the first time since the beginning of the Cold War that the US need not choose sides in the cross-strait equation, and mainland China and Taiwan need not face this predicament either. This is now the very foundation of the status quo in Taiwan-US relations.

In addition to seeking stable development in cross-strait and ROC-US relations, Taiwan has also taken concrete actions over the past few years to be a regional peacemaker in both the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Back in August of 2012, I proposed the East China Sea Peace Initiative. That Initiative asks stakeholders to forgo conflict in favor of peaceful negotiations, and emphasizes cooperation in sharing resources. Eight months later in April of 2013, Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement that embodies the spirit of that Initiative, and solved a fisheries dispute between Taiwan and Japan that has troubled both countries for 40 years. That agreement elicited widespread praise and support from the global community. Secretary of State John Kerry has publicly stated that the ROC-Japan fisheries agreement is a model for promoting regional stability, and that the principles at the heart of the East China Sea Peace Initiative apply to all of the waters in Asia.

In the East China Sea, the East China Sea Peace Initiative encourages stakeholders to shelve their disputes, and cooperate to create win-win situations. Its success makes it a model for peaceful development in the South China Sea. So on the 26th of last month, I formally announced the South China Sea Peace Initiative, hoping that the relevant parties will “shelve sovereignty dispute, pursue peace and reciprocity, and promote joint exploration and development.” By upholding those principles, we hope that all the parties involved will work together to maintain regional peace and promote regional development. Immediately, a US State Department official stated that the US appreciates the proposals in the South China Sea Peace Initiative. I sincerely hope that all of the outstanding scholars and experts gathered here will support the pursuit of peace that I’ve presented today.

So today, as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ROC’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and the end of World War II, I hope we can put aside the trials and tribulations of the past, and look forward to a brighter future. The people and government of the ROC cherish our hard-won peace and prosperity, and hope that all countries can turn the painful lessons of history into a force for regional peace and prosperity. Inspired by our own successes in promoting cross-strait and regional peace, we also appeal to countries all over the world to resolve disputes through peaceful means, and work together as we seek sustainable peace and prosperity for all of humankind. In short, we commemorate the victory in World War II to prevent future wars.

Another observation I want to make is that both Washington and Taipei agree that current Taiwan-US relationship is at its best in 36 years. What are the key reasons for that?

In my view, there are two key reasons beyond strong traditional friendship built since War World II: First of all, the successful handling of cross-strait relations based on the 1992 Consensus—namely, one China, respective interpretations. Second, the low-key and surprise-free approach to the conduct of our bilateral relations. The first one is even more critical than the second one. That is to say, without the 1992 Consensus, I doubt the current status quo can be maintained. I hope this invaluable model will continue well into the future even after I step down as president of the Republic of China.

Today’s program will now continue with a two-way videoconference, so please do submit your questions. I trust that today’s program will be a great success. Thank you very much!

President Ma's post-Q&A closing remarks:

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before we conclude today’s videoconference, I would like to extend my sincerest thanks, again, to Secretary Perry, Professor Diamond, Dr. Fingar, Ambassador Eikenberry, Dr. Chen, the Stanford University Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, and to all the members of the audience. I deeply appreciate your efforts in organizing this important conference on the seventieth anniversary of the Republic of China’s victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan, as well as your generosity in sharing with me your views on the prospects of the future of East Asia. I would additionally like to commend your audience and distinguished guests for their enthusiastic participation, insightful views and challenging questions.

It has been an honor to exchange views with such distinguished participants. Last but not least, let us salute all those who endured, suffered and sacrificed to achieve peace and victory seventy years ago, and forged a friendship that endures to this day.

Thank you very very much.



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