Taiwan: PRC Must Accept Taiwan’s Peace Offer
In an interview with the ‘Global Views’ magazine, the president Ma painted a rosy portrait of what could happen if his ‘olive branch’ was accepted.
Through a “diplomatic truce” with Beijing, [president]Ma said, both sides would no longer have to engage in malicious competition over diplomatic allies and Taiwan could drop its reputation as a state that engages in “checkbook diplomacy.”
“Some have criticized the proposal as wishful thinking, but it is not,” he told the Chinese-language Global Views magazine in an interview on Thursday [21 August 2008].
The interview will be published in next month’s issue, which hits the shelves on Monday [1 September 2008].
In the interview, Ma did not elaborate on what he would consider to be a “positive response” from Beijing, nor did he say what “diplomatic war” would imply.
Ma said foreign aid was necessary, but added that it should not be used to secure diplomatic ties and should be limited to helping emerging states and the international community.
While the UN has recommended countries set aside 0.7 percent of their GDP for foreign aid, Ma said there was room for growth as Taiwan’s foreign aid represented only 0.15 percent of its GDP.
Hailing his just-concluded trip to Latin America and the Caribbean as a success, Ma said he did not talk money with leaders of the country’s six diplomatic allies and eight leaders of non-allied countries during the visit.
Ma also proposed to allow Chinese students to study in Taiwan, which in his view would increase competitiveness in schools, help cross-strait reconciliation and resolve the problem of insufficient student numbers.
“Twenty years from now, we might have a Tsing Hua University graduate head China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the head of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council from Beijing’s Tsinghua University. I don’t see anything wrong with that,” he said.
“How do you expect both sides to engage in a war if they are leaders of our government?” Ma said.
Ma said he believed there was trust on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, as highlighted by the fact that against all expectations, weekend charter flight services began soon after he took office in May .
He said, however, that it would take some time before dramatic changes in the cross-strait situation became apparent.
Regarding the low numbers of Chinese tourists visiting Taiwan, Ma said this did not worry him and that his understanding was that Beijing had been preoccupied with the Olympics and consequently had not had the time to focus on the matter.
Nor would the economy improve overnight, he said, adding he was confident his administration would overcome the difficulties and that Taiwanese should “just follow me.”
In Taipei yesterday [26 August 2008], Vice President Vincent Siew said the “diplomatic truce” with Beijing would not only bring peace in the Taiwan Strait but would also help stabilize the global community and expedite investment in Taiwan.
The purpose of the proposal was to rebuild the country’s international reputation from a “troublemaker” into that of a responsible stakeholder, he said, adding that the Ma administration would maintain friendly relations with all countries, especially Japan and the US.