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May 28, 2017

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Ma urges cross-strait human rights discussion

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that a discussion or even competition between Taiwan and mainland China over the implementation of human rights-related covenants would be nothing but positive.

Ma yesterday met with his mentor Jerome Cohen, a human rights advocate and New York University School of Law professor, at the Presidential Office.

Taiwan recently submitted its first human rights report to the United Nations for review, the president said.

Although mainland China has signed both the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, it has only ratified the former treaty, Ma said, adding, however, that it is "a good start."

If both sides of the Taiwan Strait can engage in discussion or competition over the covenants' implementation, it would be nothing but positive, the president stressed.

The idea might be impractical, but a lot of ideas seem impractical at first, Ma said, adding that the two sides can gradually make the proposal feasible.

A fishery pact between Taiwan and Japan was signed in April, the president said.

Given that fishery disputes between the two sides date back more than four decades, the event was a veritable milestone, the president said.

The pact was the first step toward peace in the East China Sea, proving that Taipei and Tokyo can settle disputes in a peaceful manner, Ma added.

Taiwan, Philippines Row

With regard to the row between the R.O.C. and the Philippines, the president said that investigators from both sides recently traveled to each other's jurisdiction to probe the case which gave rise to the spat, marking the first cooperative case since Taiwan and the Philippines inked an Agreement on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters.

Unfortunately, the fishing boat incident saw the death of a local fisherman, Ma said, adding that the government has requested Manila to issue an official apology, to compensate for the losses, to conduct an impartial probe and to commence fishery negotiations.

If the investigations come to a reasonable conclusion, and if justice is served, then not only will the 11 punitive measures leveled against the Philippines be lifted, but the ties between the two sides will also become even stronger, Ma said.

The demands that Taipei has placed upon Manila are in accordance with international law and the United Nations Charter, the president said.

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