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President lauds role of TRA in wide-ranging conference call
Central News Agency
2014-04-09 11:36 PM
Taipei, April 9 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou praised the importance of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), "the cornerstone of the Taiwan-U.S. relations," during a Wednesday video conference hosted by a Washington think tank the day before the 35th anniversary of the TRA. The U.S. law has stood the test of time, nurturing Taiwan's democracy and vibrant economy, Ma said in English during the conference with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). "It has given Taiwan the confidence to engage constructively with its neighbor across the narrow Taiwan Strait," he said. The TRA was enacted on April 10, 1979 to maintain commercial, cultural, and other relations between the people of the U.S. and the people of Taiwan following Washington's move to break diplomatic ties with Taipei in favor of Beijing. It also pledges U.S. assistance to help with Taiwan's peace and security. Ma expressed hopes that Taiwan and the U.S. "will continue to stand together in the years and decades ahead" based on their past cooperation under the TRA. Asked about his agenda for Taipei-Washington relations during his remaining two years in office, Ma said his administration will continue to seek closer ties in security and the economy, singling out the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks held in Washington last week. He took the opportunity to express hopes for negotiations for a bilateral investment agreement in the near future, which he said would be a stepping stone for Taiwan's economy, along with possibly joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- in which it would make up the sixth largest participating economy. Both moves on trade would be in Washington's interests, as well, as the U.S. continues to seek a stronger economic presence around the world. On security, Ma said he hopes for U.S. assistance in building diesel-electric submarines to strengthen Taiwan's defenses. As for cross-strait relations, Ma said that if he is able to have an unprecedented meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he would convey a message of sustainable peace and prosperity for both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Meanwhile, he said that his administration will step up efforts to communicate over the trade-in-services agreement with China that has been at the center of weeks of protest and counter-protests in Taipei, when asked about the issue. Ma stressed the importance of the pact for Taiwan's robust service industry, as China is its biggest trade partner. Paul Wolfowitz, former U.S. deputy secretary of defense and current chairman of the U.S.-Taiwan Business Council, agreed that opening economic relations with China will make Taiwan more attractive to American businesses. Wolfowitz and U.S. Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, co-chair of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, participated in the discussion from Washington. (By James Lee and Elaine Hou)
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