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President denies selling out Taiwan, touts incorruptibility

2011/12/30 23:56:17

Taipei, Dec. 30 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou insisted Friday under renewed attacks from his main rival that he has not done anything to hurt Taiwan's sovereignty or international profile since assuming office and had instead ushered in a period of clean governance.

Speaking in a televised policy presentation forum ahead of Taiwan's presidential election on Jan. 14, Ma said his main challenger Tsai Ing-wen of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has often accused him of sacrificing Taiwan to his China-friendly policy.

"Such allegations are groundless. What have I done to erode our national sovereignty? To the contrary, our sovereign rule and our foreign representation have not been undermined in any way," Ma said, at the forum, which gave each of the three candidates the chance to present their views in three 10-minute spots.

He cited the signing of an aviation agreement between Taiwan and Hong Kong earlier in the day by their official representatives to prove that Taiwan's status had actually been upgraded under his administration's pragmatic and flexible strategy toward China.

"While Taiwan is small, it can exercise enormous influence through its democratic and economic leverage. Our liberal economic strategy has influence mainland China and our democratic politics will have a strong impact on the mainland, too," Ma said confidently.

Noting that many of Taiwan's presidential campaign forums and televised debates among candidates could be seen online in China, Ma said he believes that Taiwan's political development will influence China over the long run.

He also stressed that while Chinese authorities were not satisfied with his policy of strengthening Taiwan's defense, they had to face up to the reality that whatever he has done has been for the well-being of Taiwan's people.

"I know the Chinese communist authorities are hardly satisfied with me, but they have to squarely face up to the reality that as the head of state, I must safeguard Taiwan's interests and defend people's dignity," Ma said.

As has been the case throughout the campaign, the president attacked Tsai's proposal of a "Taiwan consensus" as opaque and devoid of content, while arguing that his policy had been consistent and clear.

"Such an overture will lead nowhere," Ma said of Tsai's initiative, adding that he did not not think the two sides of the Taiwan Strait would ever reach a consensus on Taiwan's future nor would Taiwan and the United States have a consensus on the issue.

For him, Ma said, the "Taiwan consensus" refers to maintaining the current "no unification, no independence, no use of force" status quo under the framework of the Republic of China's Constitution and to promote peaceful cross-strait development under the "1992 consensus" of "one China, separate interpretations."

Ma pushed Tsai to clearly explain what her "Taiwan consensus" means, warning that her denial of the existence of the "1992 consensus" between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait could threaten bilateral engagements and destroy what his administration has achieved in improving cross-strait ties.

In the second of the three Central Election Commission-sponsored campaign forums, Ma touted his "Taiwan dream" of building the island into a country with clean and incorruptible governance.

Dismissing the previous DPP administration as being plagued by corruption, Ma said he has demanded that he and his family members to live up to the most rigorous moral standards.

"Immediately after I won the presidential election three years ago, I asked my family members to either resign or retire from their posts to avoid any possibility of conflict of interest," Ma said.

Noting that former President Chen Shui-bian and many other DPP administration officials are serving time behind bars for corruption, Ma said none of the political appointees in his administration have been indicted on corruption charges over the past three years.

He asked voters to give him four more years to realize his "Taiwan dream" and lead the country to join the ranks of advanced ones.

(By Sofia Wu)