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Ex-president hits back at Presidential Office allegations

2018/03/13 21:14:03

Former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九, left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平)/CNA file photo

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) Former President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) office rejected Tuesday a Presidential Office demand that Ma clarify a newspaper allegation that his office withheld documentation related to a meeting he had with Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) in 2015.

The demand came after Taiwan's Chinese-language Liberty Times ran a front-page story in which anonymous sources the newspaper identified only as officials in the upper echelons of the government, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, and national security agencies made the allegation.

"If any high-ranking government or DPP officials, or national security staff suspect anything fishy behind the Ma-Xi meeting or the meeting being facilitated by back-door contacts, they should provide evidence to back up the allegations," said Hsu Chiao-hsin (徐巧芯), a spokesperson of Ma's office.

The accusers should also make their names public and specify what documents are purported to have been held back by Ma, Hsu said.

The historic meeting between Ma and Xi, the first between leaders of Taiwan and China since 1949, took place in Singapore Nov. 9, 2015, about two months before the 2016 presidential election.

Then-head of the Mainland Affairs Council Hsia Li-yan (夏立言) said one day after the Liberty Times broke the news Nov. 3 that year that the idea of the Ma-Xi meeting was brought up by his Chinese counterpart Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) when they met in Xiamen, China Oct. 14, 2015.

According to the newspaper, the sources said there could have been covert talks between the Ma administration and the Chinese side for two years that led to the Ma-Xi meeting, but no records of any such secret talks exist among the documents having been handed to the Tsai government by the Ma administration.

In response to the reports, the Presidential Office said that there were four types of documents regarding the meeting kept as presidential records -- papers outlining the timeline and logistic support for holding the event, the minutes of the meeting, and news coverage and op-ed articles about the event.

Those documents were produced during the period between the Hsia-Zhang meeting and the Ma-Xi meeting, the statement added.

In the Presidential Office statement, it demanded an explanation from Ma as to what documents his administration failed to provide during the transition of power.

The Presidential Office did not comment on what documents it thinks should have been preserved but were not handed over by Ma before he left office.

"Whether there were any other documents or records that should have been preserved, pursuant to the Archives Act and related laws, but were lost, should be addressed by the person in charge of the former administration and others involved in the Ma-Xi meeting," the statement said.

(By Shih Hsiu-chuan)
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