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Taiwan and China in ‘special relations’: Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou has set the tone for two major issues facing his administration by describing Taiwan and China as having a "special relation," and qualifying his campaign promises of quick economic growth.

Ma said the tie between Taiwan and China is not that between two nations, but rather a "special relationship" that can be handled invoking the "1992 consensus" between the two sides.

On his "633" promises to improve the economy, Ma said he is confident of achieving that the goals -- annual economic growth of 6 percent, per capita GDP of US$30,000 and unemployment less than 3 percent -- in 2016, if re-elected four years later.

Ma made the remarks in an interview with Mario Vazquez Rana from the leading Mexican daily, Sol de Mexico, at the Presidential Office on Aug. 26. The Presidential Office released the full text of the interview yesterday.

Cross-strait ties and the economy are two closely related issues for the Ma administration, which is relying heavily on improvement in ties with China to boost economic growth.

The opposition camp has been accusing the president of kow-towing to China and failing to deliver his promise to materialize "633" soon after election.

When asked to comment on the idea of "two Chinas" during the interview, Ma said that the PRC's constitution does not allow the existence of another country in its territory, and neither does the ROC's.

"Therefore, we (Taiwan and China) have a special relationship, but not that between two countries," said Ma.

He said that the controversies surrounding the sovereignty issue cannot be solved in the near future, and in the meantime, the "1992 consensus" should serve as the basis for handling cross-strait ties until a final resolution is reached.

He pointed out that the 1992 consensus sees both sides agreeing to accept the principle of "one China," but the meaning of "one China" remains open to different interpretations and disagreements.

Ma said his government will not spend all its time and resources on a sovereignty issue to which no immediate solution can be found. He said his policy at present is to focus on more pressing issues that the two sides can resolve together.

Although the Chinese communists won the war in 1949, the existence of the Republic of China on Taiwan since then is a fact that "nobody can deny," he insisted.

Mexico switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing long ago, but Ma said it is in the interest of Taiwan and Mexico to continue practical relations.

With cross-strait tensions easing, Ma said he hopes to avoid confrontation with China, and that Taipei will stop its arm-wrestling with Beijing over foreign relations. He said peaceful co-existence is the ideal way for the two sides to get along in the international arena.

On his economic policy, Ma said that Taiwan is forecast to achieve economic growth of at least 4.6 percent for 2008, which he said is "not bad" given the current global economic downturn. 

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