Taiwan President Ma: Taiwan will not be Hong Kong
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou discusses relations with mainland China, economic growth, the risk of armed conflict, and why Taipei will not bow to Beijing as Hong Kong has.
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Tom Plate: How, if at all, does the evolution of the relationship between the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong impact on Taiwan’s thinking about the “final position” between Taipei and Beijing?
Though Hong Kong’s Basic Law declares that it shall be governed by its people and enjoy a high degree of autonomy, the reality is that in Beijing’s “one country, two systems” model, the Hong Kong “system” must bow to the will of the “one country.” By contrast, the Republic of China (Taiwan) is a sovereign, democratic nation. So the mainland-Hong Kong model can’t apply to cross-strait relations.
In view of the impossibility of resolving the cross-strait sovereignty dispute in the near future, my administration’s pragmatic approach is to maintain the status quo of no unification, no independence, and no use of force under the Republic of China’s constitution while cultivating harmonious relations and promoting friendly interaction. Events have shown that this approach creates space for Taiwan to move forward, with improvements in cross-strait relations enhancing our opportunities for participation in international affairs.
Looking toward the future, surveys conducted by our Mainland Affairs Council show that an overwhelming majority of people in Taiwan are in favor of maintaining the status quo. As Taiwan is a democratic society based on respect for the public will, in the realm of cross-strait relations, this government will continue to abide by the principle of putting the interests of our 23 million people first and respecting their freedom of choice.
Plate: Do you think it will ever dawn on your opposition that true, complete, and formal independence from the mainland is a very slim likelihood indeed, at least for the foreseeable future?
Ma: The Republic of China has been a sovereign, independent nation since its establishment in 1912, and next year will mark its centennial. It therefore does not need to pursue independence. In fact, there is no nation in the world which declares independence twice. This is the practical reality across the Taiwan Strait as well as the common understanding of the great majority of people in Taiwan, including the opposition.
Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement
Plate: What are the risks, if any, that Taiwan takes with ECFA (Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement)?
Ma: Negotiating the ECFA is an indispensable aspect of the government’s overall strategy for strengthening Taiwan’s economy, forging ties in the Asia-Pacific, and responding to the trend of regional integration. In all we do, we strive to put our people’s interests first, maximize opportunities, and minimize risks.