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Maintaining good ties with U.S., Japan, China big challenge: Ma

2013/10/16 15:55:31

President Ma Ying-jeou.

Taipei, Oct. 16 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Wednesday that leading Taiwan in maintaining good relations with the United States, Japan and China at the same time has been a big challenge.

Maintaining such complex relationships "has been the biggest challenge since I took office," Ma said when meeting scholars and dignitaries who participated in a U.S.-Japan-Taiwan trilateral dialogue a day earlier.

In the past, Taiwan's relations with China and other countries conflicted with each other and were trapped in a vicious cycle, he said. Cross-strait relations left Taiwan isolated diplomatically, and international relations led to conflicts between Taiwan and China.

After taking office in 2008, Ma said his primary objective has been to turn the vicious cycle into a virtuous one, reduce cross-strait tensions and even enable Taiwan's relations with China and the international community to complement each another.

In pursuit of this goal, Taiwan has taken a "low key, zero accident" approach with the U.S. over the past five years, and mutual trust has been established, Ma said.

The U.S. has also kept its commitment to Taiwan under the Taiwan Relations Act, selling it US$18.3 billion worth of weapons over the period, the highest figure in the past two decades, the president said.

In addition, the Six Assurances made by the U.S. to Taiwan in 1982 have also provided Taiwan "a better external environment" in which to promote cross-strait relations, he said.

As for Japan, Ma said that he has had a "special partnership" with Japan over the past five years and that Taiwan-Japan relations were taken to a new level after a fishery pact was signed in April.

The TRA, enacted in 1979 after the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Taiwan in favor of China, obliges the U.S. to help Taiwan defend itself.

In 1982, then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan offered Taiwan six assurances, which included that the U.S. will not set a date for termination of arms sales to Taiwan; will not alter the terms of the TRA; and will not consult with China before making decisions about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

(By Kelvin Huang and James Lee)
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