News / Asia

Taiwan President Pledges Close Ties With China

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou during a news conference after his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Office in Taipei, May 20, 2012
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou during a news conference after his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Office in Taipei, May 20, 2012
Ralph Jennings
TAIPEI - Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou began his second term in office on Sunday with a forecast for deeper relations with old rival China. But he said a formal peace accord was not urgent. His comments came amid two days of street demonstrations.
 
The Taiwanese president, who was first elected in 2008 on pledges to ease tension with rising military power China, said he would stick to that course. President Ma Ying-jeou said he expected more deals like the 16 trade, transit and economic agreements that were signed between the two sides over the past four years.
 
But President Ma told a news conference he was in no hurry to sign a formal peace accord with Beijing without popular support. He was criticized after making the suggestion last year.
 
He says Taiwan will handle easy but pressing issues with China before tackling harder ones and consider economic issues ahead of political ones. In that spirit, he says, there is no urgency to discuss a peace accord now with China, and Taiwan’s people must first express a high level of support, including a voter referendum.
 
The 61-year-old president, who won re-election by a slim margin in January, also told reporters on Sunday that the public already endorses the current pace set for improving ties with China. Forty-five percent of Taiwanese people support the current pace, with smaller numbers favoring speeding up or slowing down the process. Ties were frozen, and tensions were high, before 2008.
 
Deals signed with the Asian economic powerhouse just 160 kilometers away are worth billions of dollars to Taiwanese companies. The pacts are also credited with improving Taiwan’s export competitiveness in Asia.
 
Communist China has claimed sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, and has not ruled out the use of military force to maintain that sovereignty. Ma’s Nationalist Party, which once ruled all of China, fled to Taiwan in that decade and re-established a rival government. Beijing has welcomed the talks as it hopes they lead to political dialogue and eventual reunification.
Protesters throw eggs at a portrait of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a demonstration in Taipei, May 20, 2012.Protesters throw eggs at a portrait of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a demonstration in Taipei, May 20, 2012.
x
Protesters throw eggs at a portrait of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a demonstration in Taipei, May 20, 2012.
Protesters throw eggs at a portrait of Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou during a demonstration in Taipei, May 20, 2012.

But thousands of anti-government protesters took to the streets of Taipei on Saturday and Sunday, tying up traffic as they shouted slogans and blasted air horns. Domestic issues such as the wealth gap dominated their agenda, but some were worried that  Ma’s government has already veered too close to Beijing.
 
Protester Chen Hsien-che, a 50-year-old cosmetics worker from northern Taiwan, says he is concerned that the president’s policies will allow Taiwan to be consumed by the Communist rival.
 
He says Taiwanese people are definitely worried, because they have lived on the island for so long that as a people who cherish peace and love freedom they would not survive the sudden impact of Chinese rule.
 
President Ma said on Sunday he had heard the public’s voice. But his government has said it expects to sign an investment protection guarantee with China this year, helping about a million of the island’s business people. Officials on the island also expect to cut thousands of import tariffs and lower barriers for Chinese investors interested in Taiwanese companies, all before Ma leaves office in 2016.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More