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Flexible diplomacy is the way out for Taiwan: KMT candidate

ROC Central News Agency

2008-03-09 18:18:13

    Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Kuomintang presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou blasted China and the government for Taiwan's diplomatic predicament and argued that "flexible diplomacy" was the only way out for Taiwan, in a televised debate Sunday.

    Speaking in the second of two debates before the March 22 election, Ma criticized the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for "fire-spreading diplomacy" tactics that he said resulted in Taiwan's loss of nine allies in the past eight years. "It has been a bitter lesson for Taiwan, " Ma said in response to a question raised by Ma Wei-min, executive editor of Apple Daily, one of the debate organizers.

    An example, he said, was President Chen Shui-bian's insistence on using the name "Taiwan" to join the World Health Organization and the United Nations, which he claimed had caused Taiwan's major security partners and even some of its diplomatic allies to lose faith in Taipei or refrain from supporting it.

    He also blamed Taiwan's diplomatic hardships on China's suppression of the country's space in the international community; therefore, he said, "we should find a balance between Taiwan's mainland China policy and its diplomatic policy toward the world." "China's non-stop suppression of Taiwan's international space is unacceptable and has enraged Taiwan's people. Therefore we need to negotiate with China as it is the root of the problem," Ma said.

    Describing himself as well experienced in diplomatic matters, Ma said that besides negotiating with China, a "flexible diplomacy" is the only way for Taiwan to reach out to the world.

    He suggested that Taiwan should take a step-by-step approach and first try to join the World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, or the World Bank as an observer before seeking for membership.

    As to how to solve the problem of "money diplomacy, " Ma said Taiwan should continue to provide economic and humanitarian aid to its allies but has to make sure the assistance does not fall into the pockets of officials of the recipient countries.

    In response to the same question, the Democratic Progressive Party's presidential candidate Frank Hsieh said that China's diplomatic suppression of Taiwan would not stop even if the KMT runs the government. "Therefore we should stop pointing our fingers at each other but should join together to face China," he said.

    Noting that coordination and consultations are important in diplomacy, Hsieh said solidarity and strength are very important and Taiwan should not peg its diplomatic goals to China's goodwill.

    As to money diplomacy, Hsieh said if he is elected president of Taiwan, he would take a firm stance and not respond to the extortion or blackmail of any allied country, but stressed that aid programs should not all be branded as "money diplomacy."

    According to the rules, each of the two hopefuls made six-minute opening statements before answering a combined 10 questions from five media representatives.

    In the third section of the debate, each presidential hopeful asked his opponent five questions, before the forum ended with each candidate presenting six-minute concluding statements.

    Unlike the first debate, when 20 citizens asked the candidates pre-recorded questions, Ma and Hsieh were not informed beforehand of the questions media representatives would ask them.

    The debate was organized by Taiwan's Central News Agency, the Public Television Foundation and four major newspapers -- the China Times, the Liberty Times, the United Daily News and the Apple Daily.

(By Rachel Chan)



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