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Ma calls for policy debate with opposition

2011/09/26 23:04:01

Taipei, Sept. 26 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou on Monday called for a debate with the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on political policies, saying it would help bring together different points of view in the country.

Ma issued the challenge in his reply to a letter from Winston Yang, a professor of Asian Studies at Seton Hall University, who asked Ma how he would lead Taiwan to become a distinguished democracy out of the current political chaos.

Ma suggested a debate on policies with the DPP would help the country move closer to common views, but he also said that despite occasional disputes between the two main parties, democracy in Taiwan had already greatly contributed to its political stability and economy.

Yang also asked Ma how he would safeguard Taiwan's security amid criticism that he had sacrificed the country's sovereignty in pursuing closer relations with China.

Ma reiterated that the two sides across the Taiwan Strait should institutionalize cross-strait exchanges and maintain the status quo.

He also defended his record, saying that those who have criticized him have not been able to prove how Taiwan's dignity was hurt in the exchanges.

In response to Ma's debate challenge, DPP chairwoman and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen said she did not intend to rush into a debate, since there will be a formal debate for all presidential candidates, to be held jointly by six major local media outlets.

Tsai stressed that before any debate, Ma should answer the question she raised earlier about what Ma has done and promised to China while handling cross-strait issues.

Ma said negotiations and agreements between the two sides were not made under any political precondition but later insisted that the "1992 consensus" was the foundation of any exchanges with China, Tsai said.

She urged the president to answer her question, which she said she asked on behalf of the 23 million people in Taiwan.

The "1992 consensus" is what the KMT describes as a tacit understanding between the two sides in which there is only "one China" with each side free to interpret what that means.

Tsai also said there has been speculation of Ma's intention to sign a peace accord with China were he to be reelected, despite the president's contention that the time for a cross-strait peace accord or any political negotiations was not ripe.

According to AP, an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks showed that Ma told Timothy Keating, former chief of the United States Pacific Command, in late 2009 that political discussions with China were possible.

"Despite warming economic ties, (China's) military posture across the Strait remains unchanged. People's Liberation Army activities in recent months demonstrated that Taiwan may need to move beyond economic discussions into political discussions with the mainland," Ma was cited as saying in the cable.

Meanwhile, Premier Wu Den-yih, Ma's running mate, said he would attend such a debate as a vice presidential candidate were he invited.

(By Lee Shu-hua, Sophia Yeh, Wen Kuei-hsiang and Jamie Wang)
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