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Ma's APEC comments spark war of words across partisan lines
Central News Agency
2013-12-26 11:29 PM
Taipei, Dec. 26 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou's remarks that he would be "willing" to attend the next leaders' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum has sparked war of words, with opposition politicians criticizing what they call a failure to put the nation's needs first. Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang said Ma was speaking only out of his own interests during a Dec. 19 interview with Yazhou Zhoukan (Asia Weekly), in which the president said he would "not rule out" meeting China's President Xi Jinping at the APEC forum. "He is only thinking of meeting Xi, who is a world away, but does not even see the people of his own country," Su said Thursday. Su also criticized the Ma administration's "diplomatic ceasefire" with Beijing -- referring to an end to attempts to steal allies from each other -- and said that the truce has still not allowed Taiwan to reach out to the international community. China still refuses to let Taiwan's president attend APEC meetings, he noted. Former DPP chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said that a meeting between the leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait would be a serious matter, and if Ma wants to meet Xi, he has a responsibility to clearly explain his goals and the significance it will have for cross-strait ties. If there is to be such a meeting, the arrangements, conditions and details should be made public, she said. The Presidential Office published the full text of Ma's interview with Yazhou Zhoukan on Wednesday, in which he said he would be open to meeting with China's Xi on at the APEC forum but it would need to be based on Taiwan's "national needs" and "public willingness for support." Yang Wei-chung, spokesman for the ruling Kuomintang, which Ma chairs, responded to critics Thursday by saying that Ma's stance has always been that such a high-profile meeting would only be possible if Taiwan needs it, the people give support, and it is based on the principles of reciprocity and dignity. Yang compared Ma's administration with the DPP government under Chen Shui-bian's presidency from 2000 to 2008, noting that the DPP's efforts to send higher-profile delegates to APEC were unsuccessful. In 2006 and 2007, he said, the government had to send business leaders to avoid conflict. Since Ma assumed the presidency in 2008, however, he has been able to appoint former vice presidents to APEC, including former Vice President Lien Chan, and more recently, Ma's vice president during his first term, Vincent Siew. (By Justin Su, Lee Shu-hua and Lilian Wu)
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