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Taiwan and China should exchange representative offices: President Ma Ying-jeou
Japanese delegations stay away from Ma speech
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2012-10-10 02:39 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The establishment of representative offices by Taiwan and China in each other’s capitals will be a priority cross-straits policy, President Ma Ying-jeou said in his speech for Wednesday’s Double Ten National Day celebrations.

In his address, he also covered economic reform and higher wages, the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands, public criticism of his policies and the encouragement of foreign investment. The representative offices would be able to provide assistance to business people, students and citizens from both sides of the Taiwan Straits, he said.

Ma saw growing mutual trust between Taiwan and China, as evidenced by former Vice President Lien Chan’s discussion of larger international space with President Hu Jintao at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Vladivostok last month.

Following the signing of 18 agreements over the past four years, the two sides had reached a consensus to the advantage of the public, he said. Taiwan and China could not only complement each other’s economy and promote cultural exchanges, but also talk about democracy and the rule of law, according to Ma.

He mentioned the basis for the exchanges would still be the so-called ‘1992 Consensus,’ which according to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and several key observers does not exist. The ruling Kuomintang claims China agreed that both sides could have a different interpretation of their own of the One China Principle.

Former opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said Ma’s plan to exchange offices with China was not transparent enough and sounded too much like a propaganda stunt. He should provide more details about measures to prevent problems, she said.

On the Tiaoyutai Islands, Ma restated his key stance. “Protecting sovereignty and fishermen’s rights, the peaceful resolution of disputes and the joint development of resources will be the aims of my efforts,” the president said. He added that the same policies applied to the South China Sea, where China, Vietnam, the Philippines and Malaysia also lay claims to numerous small islands.

An estimated 39 Japanese legislators and other delegation members did not turn up for the Double Ten celebrations after they heard Ma would mention the Tiaoyutai, reports said. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they had personally given Ma their good wishes for the National Day.

Taiwan and Japan are expected to resume fishing talks about the disputed islands soon, now that Taipei’s representative Shen Ssu-tsun returned to Tokyo on October 4. MOFA said Ma’s speech was not believed to have an impact on the schedule for the new round of talks.

Taiwan originally recalled Shen on September 12 after Japan announced the nationalization of three Tiaoyutai islands, which Tokyo calls Senkaku. The Japanese decision provoked an angry row with China, which also claims sovereignty over the uninhabited islands.

A flotilla of almost 100 Taiwanese fishing vessels and coast guard ships approached the islands within 3 nautical miles on September 25, leading to clashes and water cannon exchanges with the Japanese coast guard.

Taiwan would play the role of an international peacemaker, Ma said in his speech.

He closed off his address with shouts of “Long Live the Republic of China” and “Long Live Taiwan Democracy.”

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