Gov't makes no concessions on diplomatic, defense fronts: president
ROC Central News Agency
By Sofia Wu
Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday his administration, while seeking to improve relations with China, has not done anything harmful to the country's sovereignty and dignity since its inauguration.
"I have stood firm on both the diplomatic and defense fronts, " Ma said in an exclusive interview with the Central News Agency.
Speaking a day before the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and several pro-independence groups hold a protest rally against Ma's administration and China in Taipei, Ma said he supports the expression of opinions in a legal manner and even agreed with one of the rally's themes -- opposing substandard or toxic foodstuffs from China.
"The appeal against the substandard products from China is the government's policy, " Ma said. "It is a national consensus to stave off imports of contaminated foodstuffs or dangerous products into Taiwan."
Ma noted that Premier Liu Chao-shiuan has condemned Chinese companies' shipments of melamine-tainted milk products and food ingredients to Taiwan and demanded that they apologize and compensate local victims.
He also said the Strais Exchange Foundation -- a quasi-official intermediary body authorized to handle exchanges with China in the absence of official ties -- is working to establish a mechanism to seek compensation from China.
The president took issue, however, with the rally's goal of "protecting Taiwan's sovereign status, " which is based on opposition criticism that Ma's administration is tilting excessively toward China.
He described the slogan as empty rhetoric by a handful of people and stressed that his administration has achieved things that the previous DPP administration pursued but failed to accomplish.
He insisted that his government had not made any concessions on Taiwan's sovereignty to realize those goals, such as agreements to open nonstop direct weekend cross-srait charter flights between Taiwan and China and expand opportunities for Chinese tourists to visit Taiwan.
The protest rally comes just two weeks before China's point man on Taiwan, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits President Chen Yunlin, is to arrive in Taiwan to negotiate further transportation links between the two sides and discuss food safety issues and joint crime-fighting efforts.
Although the protest may voice opposition to Chen's visit, Ma said the results of all public opinion surveys show that a majority of local people are giving it a thumbs-up.
"I think even the DPP itself would not oppose his visit because the issues to be addressed during his visit are related to DPP members and supporters," Ma said.
When the DPP was in power, Ma recalled, the DPP also pushed for the establishment of direct air links to facilitate the cross-strait travel of local businessmen who have operations in China.
On the DPP's criticism that Taiwan's sovereign status is threatened under Ma's administration, Ma asserted that to date, he has not seen a single thing the government is doing that could be detrimental to the country's sovereignty.
On the contrary, Ma said, his administration's consolidation of relations with the country's diplomatic allies, completion of an arms procurement deal with the United States, and reduction of tensions in the Taiwan Strait, all will solidify, not weaken, Taiwan's sovereign status.
"What I'm doing or have done is all based on the concept of contributing to Taiwan and its people and has never flinched on diplomatic and national defense stances," Ma said.
With a conciliatory approach, Ma went on, his administration has succeeded in purchasing weapons systems from the United States to beef up Taiwan's defense capability while reviving the long-stalled cross-strait dialogue and reducing cross-strait tensions.
"All these developments are in the interest of the United States and Japan, two of Taiwan's most important trading partners," Ma said, adding that the scenario is also in the interests of Taiwan and China and meets international expectations.
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