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ROC is a sovereign country, committed to cross-strait peace: MAC

ROC Central News Agency

2016/12/17 19:56:56

Taipei, Dec. 17 (CNA) The Republic of China (Taiwan) is a sovereign country committed to promoting peaceful and stable relations with mainland China, Taiwan's top China policy planner said Saturday, in response to comments by U.S. President Barack Obama on the U.S.-China-Taiwan triangular relationship.

Since the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came into office on May 20, it has reiterated that the government remains committed to preserving peaceful development in the Taiwan Strait and in the region, the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said.

The government has also pledged to continue to promote a pragmatic, steady cross-strait policy that safeguards the country's best interests and ensures the people's well-being, the MAC said.

The council also noted that the core goal of Taiwan's national development is to ensure a sustainable development of a democratic system and to be able to participate in international organizations with dignity.

Both Taiwan and the United States have upheld the values of freedom and democracy and established a close partnership in all areas, the MAC said, expressing its gratitude for the U.S.'s support for Taiwan's efforts to promote a pragmatic cross-strait policy.

The MAC urged Beijing, meanwhile, to consider restarting cross-strait dialogue and deal with cross-strait ties with a rational, practical attitude.

The MAC's remarks came after Obama spoke of Taiwan and China Friday at his year-end press conference, his last before departing the White House on Jan. 20.

It was the first time Obama spoke extensively about the U.S.-China-Taiwan triangular relationship since President-elect Donald Trump questioned Washington's one China policy, under which it acknowledges but does not necessarily accept Beijing's position that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of it.

The U.S. president said there has been a longstanding agreement between China, the United States and, to some degree, the Taiwanese, and that is to not change the status quo.

"China views Taiwan as part of China, but recognizes that it has to approach Taiwan as an entity that has its own ways of doing things," Obama said.

"The Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they're able to continue to function with some degree of autonomy, that they won't charge forward and declare independence.

"And that status quo, although not completely satisfactory to any of the parties involved, has kept the peace and allowed the Taiwanese to be a pretty successful economy and a people who have a high degree of self-determination," he said.

Obama cautioned against changing the status quo. "But understand, for China, the issue of Taiwan is as important as anything on their docket. The idea of one China is at the heart of their conception as a nation," he said.

He was answering a question on whether Washington's policy toward China could use a fresh approach as suggested by Trump's recent comments.

The president-elect took a call from President Tsai and later appeared to say that he would not necessarily be bound by Washington's longstanding one China policy unless the U.S. got some trade concessions from Beijing.

Taiwan's Presidential Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued statements, thanking the Obama administration for its support over the past eight years, including selling arms to Taiwan, upgrading bilateral trade and economic relations, and helping Taiwan participate in international activities.

Taiwan also thanked the U.S. government for not treating its relationship with Taiwan as subordinate to or an extension of U.S. relations with other countries and for strengthening U.S.-Taiwan relations step by step, the statements said.

They also affirmed that Taiwan hopes to strengthen its relations with the incoming Donald Trump administration on this robust foundation for bilateral relations.

In response to Obama's remarks, Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) of the Democratic Progressive Party, a member in the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, said Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country.

The legislator suggested that Obama might have been trying to steer Trump away from a radical approach on its China policy to avoid irritating Beijing.

Lawmaker Ma Wen-chun (馬文君) of the Kuomintang, also a member in the committee, agreed that Obama's remarks showed his concern about regional stability and were an attempt at reducing the possibility of any unnecessary conflicts.

Alexander Huang (黃介正), an assistant professor at Tamkang University's Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, told CNA that Obama's remarks showed he saw "the Taiwanese as unwilling to change the status-quo" in cross-strait ties.

For a president who will step down in about a month, Obama's remarks were not an announcement of a major policy but rather a response to the Trump-Tsai call and Trump's comments on "one China policy" and a reminder for the incoming president, Huang said.

Huang said that after Trump's election, it was clear that the U.S. government will scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal strongly supported by Obama.

Recent developments in Asia, including political turmoil in South Korea and deteriorating relations between the U.S. and the Philippines, also pose serious challenges to Obama's rebalancing policy toward Asia, and Obama was trying to defend his legacy, Huang said.

Lai I-chung (賴怡忠) of Taiwan Thinktank predicted that Obama's remarks will not have any impact on Trump's policy in the future.

He also disagreed with Obama's comment that "the Taiwanese have agreed that as long as they're able to continue to function with some degree of autonomy, that they won't charge forward and declare independence."

Taiwan's democracy and achievements in economic development were the results of the hard work of the Taiwanese people, Lai said.

"Before speaking on behalf of others, one should first understand the thoughts of others," he said.

(By Miu Chung-han, Justin Su and Elaine Hou)
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