President Ma Ying-jeou met on the afternoon of September 22 with a delegation of British parliamentarians, not only expounding on achievements in bilateral cooperation in recent years, but also recalling the friendship fostered by the two sides during their joint resistance of the enemy during World War II.
In remarks, President Ma stated that in recent years Taiwan and the United Kingdom have enjoyed friendly and close interaction. Commenting on tourism, the president said that the United Kingdom was the first major Western nation to grant visa-free treatment to ROC nationals. In 2009 the United Kingdom began providing visa-free courtesies to ROC nationals, which has resulted in more UK-bound Taiwan tourists, increasing from 52,000 in 2008 to 89,000 in 2009, and reaching more than 100,000 in 2013. The United Kingdom has also become the fourth most popular destination for students here seeking to study overseas, behind only the United States, Australia, and Japan.
As for trade and economic ties, the president noted that in 2014 the United Kingdom was Taiwan's third-largest trading partner in Europe, while Taiwan was UK's seventh-largest in the Asia-Pacific region, with bilateral trade valued at about US$6 billion. Even more important, he said, in March of this year the United Kingdom overtook the Netherlands to become Taiwan's largest investment destination in Europe. The president also lauded the United Kingdom changing the name of its representative office here in May of this year from the British Trade and Cultural Office to the British Office Taipei. He then expressed hope that bilateral cooperation in a variety of areas will continue to progress in the future.
Discussing ROC-UK interaction and cooperation in the field of energy, President Ma said that the two sides have taken turns holding the Taiwan-UK Renewable Energy Roundtable Meeting each year since 2006, which has helped the ROC better understand the United Kingdom's energy policies. The ROC in June 2013 introduced a cloud-based simulation tool and technology, developed by the UK's Department of Energy & Climate Change, to monitor carbon reduction and energy usage. In November of that same year, Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute completed the "Taiwan 2050 Calculator," which was Taiwan's first cloud-based communications platform for energy issues. This, he said, will be extremely beneficial to the nation in ensuring energy security.
The president also cited the viewpoint of Sir David King, the UK Special Representative for Climate Change, saying that energy policy and climate change should be considered together, along with the importance of an energy mix. The president feels that what is most impressive about Great Britain's energy policy is that although the United Kingdom is an oil producing nation and also places considerable importance on the development of renewable energy, it still has decided not to abandon nuclear power. Instead, the United Kingdom is giving nuclear energy a considerable weighting in its energy portfolio. In particular, prior to its decision to build a nuclear power facility at Hinkley Point, the British government spent quite a bit of time communicating with local residents on an in-depth basis, hoping to win public support for the plant. President Ma said that the ROC government will continue to learn from the UK government in this regard, hoping to communicate effectively with anti-nuclear segments of society here so they can understand that many policies are complementary and compatible.
The president pointed to the example of the North Sea Continental Shelf Cases in the ROC's efforts to resolve sovereignty disputes in international waters. He said that following the judgment by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1969, the United Kingdom and nations bordering the North Sea began negotiations to divide up the maritime areas in question, thus paving the way for all parties to develop oil fields there. Today, North Sea Brent Crude has become one of the most important petroleum trading classifications in the international crude oil market. The president feels that the method adopted by the interested parties in that instance conforms to the international community's desire for peace and stability, and also allows resources to be fully exploited. That method, he said, is worth emulating. Consequently, in 2012 he unveiled his East China Sea Peace Initiative, stating that "although sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared," urging all claimant parties to shelve their sovereignty disputes and jointly develop the area's resources. The president hopes to replicate the successful North Sea experience in the East China Sea. Subsequent to announcing his peace initiative, the ROC and Japan signed a fisheries agreement, which not only reduced the number of fishing disputes between the two sides, but also resulted in increased catches by fishermen.
President Ma also mentioned that this year is the 70th anniversary of the ROC's victory in the War of Resistance Against Japan and the end of World War II. The president then described in detail the historical cooperation and friendship between the ROC and the United Kingdom. During the War of Resistance, the two countries joined forces to fight against Japan in Myanmar (Burma). Joint efforts in the international arena also helped the ROC recover sovereignty over four provinces in northeastern China, Taiwan, and the Penghu islands, and bilateral cooperative relations have been close and cordial, he said.
President Ma commented that the government this year also invited retired British army captain Gerald Fitzpatrick, who fought in the Battle of Yenangyaung, to the ROC to take part in related commemorative activities. Captain Fitzpatrick recorded the history of what took place in that battle in two books—Ditched in Burma: No Mandalay, No Maymyo, 79 Survive and Chinese Save Brits—in Burma (Battle of Yenangyaung), and is an important witness to history, the president said.
Commenting on the importance of the year 1943 to the ROC and the United Kingdom, the president mentioned that on January 11 of that year the Treaty between the ROC and Great Britain for the Relinquishment of Extraterritorial Rights in China and the Regulation of Related Matters signed, abolishing all of the unequal treaties of the past. The Cairo Declaration, which was issued in the same year, stipulates that "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores (Penghu), shall be restored to the Republic of China." In fact, the president said, the preliminary draft of the declaration had not included the word "Pescadores," but former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made a note on the document to include it. The Potsdam Proclamation of 1945 also states that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." Later that year on August 15, the Japanese emperor issued an imperial edict accepting the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendering unconditionally. Japan formally completed its unconditional surrender to the Allies on September 2, signing the formal instrument aboard the battleship USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. Paragraphs one and six of the Instrument of Surrender also stipulate that Japan accept the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation.
President Ma stated that the Cairo Conference and subsequent historical developments show that the United States, the United Kingdom, the ROC, and the Soviet Union constituted the main forces in the defeat of Japan by the Allied Powers. This history of concerted effort by these countries, he said, is indeed worth commemorating.
The delegation included House of Lords Members Navnitrai Dholakia, Bruce Joseph Grocott, John David Kilclooney, and Diljit Singh Rana, and House of Commons Members Sharon Hodgson and Michelle Donelan. The delegation was led by House of Lords Member Richard Oliver Faulkner.