FPI Policy Director Robert Zarate Meets with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou

FPI Policy Director Robert Zarate joined Ambassador John R. Bolton, former U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, AEI Resident Scholar Dan Blumenthal and others to meet today with Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou in Taipei.  A Taiwan government press release summarized President Ma's remarks to the American delegation in the Republic of China's Presidential Office Building:

President Ma mentioned that since taking office in 2008 he has actively sought to improve Taiwan's relations with the United States, Japan, and mainland China.  Addressing the topic of Taiwan-U.S. relations, he said the R.O.C. government has embraced policies that have re-established mutual trust at the highest levels of government and effectively advanced cooperation and interaction. The president pointed to security cooperation as one example, saying that over the past five years the United States has approved three packages of arms sales to Taiwan worth a combined total of over U.S.$18.3 billion.  This constitutes the highest amount of arms sales to Taiwan by the United States in the past 20 years, he noted, pointing out that last year Taiwan purchased P-3C Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircrafts from the United States, as well as AH-64E Apache helicopters, and that these items have begun to be delivered.  These aircraft will enhance Taiwan's defensive capabilities and make our military better prepared for war, the president said.

President Ma further explained that in March of last year Taiwan and the United States resumed negotiations under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, with the hope of further deepening bilateral economic and trade ties.  The United States, he noted, in November 2012 formally included Taiwan in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. The R.O.C. was the 37th nation to be included in the program and the only country in the program that does not maintain formal diplomatic relations with the United States.  Subsequent to Taiwan's entry, the number of R.O.C. nationals visiting the United States for tourism has increased considerably, which has had a positive impact on the U.S. economy, he said.

As for relations between Taiwan and Japan, the president told the visitors that since he took office, many steps have been taken to promote bilateral ties.  For example, Taiwan has established a representative office in Sapporo, direct flights have been commenced between Tokyo's Haneda Airport and Taipei's Songshan Airport, and the two countries have signed the Taiwan-Japan Bilateral Investment Arrangement and an open skies agreement, he said.  President Ma further mentioned that after Japan was struck on March 11, 2011 by the Great East Japan Earthquake, donations by the government and people of Taiwan to the relief and reconstruction effort were greater than those from any other place in the world.  This, he commented, highlights the deep bonds between the people of the two countries.

President Ma also said that in April of last year Taiwan and Japan signed a fisheries agreement that effectively resolved a 40-year fisheries dispute between the two countries.  The two sides, he stated, agreed to shelve their sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutai Islets and designate the seas around the Diaoyutais as a joint conservation and management area.  The president said that the agreement has expanded high-quality fishing grounds for Taiwanese fishermen by an area double the size of Taiwan, and marks a major step forward in bilateral relations.

With respect to cross-strait relations, President Ma stated, over the past five years, nine rounds of negotiations have yielded a total of 19 agreements and two points of consensus.  Relations between Taiwan and mainland China are more stable and peaceful now than at any other time in the past 60 years, he remarked.  The president commented that some three million tourists from mainland China visit Taiwan each year, which has positive economic implications for Taiwan and, more importantly, highlights the importance of peace.

President Ma then spoke about the air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea that mainland China announced in November of last year.  He stated that the government issued a stern response to the action, including a reiteration of the R.O.C.'s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islets.  He also emphasized that aviation drills by the R.O.C. military are continuing as normal in the overlapping portion of the ADIZ.  The president further reiterated his call for all sides involved to engage in bilateral negotiations in order to avoid conflict.

President Ma also mentioned that in response to the SelectUSA investment initiative, former Vice President Vincent C. Siew (蕭萬長) led a group of business leaders from Taiwan to the United States in November of last year to look for investment opportunities. The president said that the trip yielded considerable achievements, and he expressed hope that Taiwan will be able to join the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, thereby becoming an active participant in regional economic integration in the East Asian region.

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