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September 24, 2017

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Ma eyes APEC as Xi meeting venue

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou said during a recent interview with a local magazine that the "stage" for a potential meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping is "all set," noting that he sees the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting this November as the best opportunity for the meeting to take place.

During the interview with the Chinese-language Global Views Monthly, which was published yesterday, Ma further explained that as the APEC leaders' meeting avoids addressing the participants as prime minister or president, the venue would be acceptable to the Taiwanese public.

Ma said, however, there appear to be some difficulties for Beijing — the 2014 APEC host — to accept the proposal. "So we are still waiting to see if there is a chance for the meeting," he said.

The 2014 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting is scheduled for Nov. 10 and Nov. 11 in Beijing. Leaders of the 21 APEC members are expected to attend the venue.

Ma's Take on Student Protests

When speaking about the series of student-led demonstrations over the past few months, Ma said these demonstrations reminded him of the protests he had participated in over 40 years ago.

Ma went on to say that he can view things from the students' point of view, adding that he acknowledges students' freedom to express their opinions via sit-in demonstrations outside the Legislative Yuan.

However, using violent approaches in the Assembly Hall and paralyzing the operation of the Legislature are unacceptable, the president said, adding that the March 23 occupation of the Executive Yuan and the April 11 siege of Zhongzheng First Precinct were unacceptable.

Ma said that street movements cannot replace the Legislature, noting that things eventually have to return to the Legislature for a solution.

Ruling Party vs. Opposition

Talking about the relationship between the ruling party and the opposition, Ma said the two parties "are not incapable" of communicating with each other, adding that when Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) invited him for a talk about the issue of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant on April 25, he immediately accepted Su's invitation.

Ma said he also agreed to talk with the student activists regarding the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, noting that, however, he could not accept the prerequisites set by the student activists.

The president said that the essence of "democracy" should allow everyone to freely voice their opinions without any prerequisites. "I wonder why they continue to demand democracy but at the same time propose something that is not based on democracy," he said.

Ma said to take another example, the opposition lawmakers have occupied the rostrum of the Legislative Yuan 41 times this year. "How do we make policies, make decisions, if democracy has been twisted so badly?" he asked.

When asked about the service trade pact, Ma said it seems that the positive opinions of the trade pact are not reaching the public. The false information about the trade pact has caused a certain degree of concern among the public, Ma said.

"Sentimentalism and blindness to reason are our greatest concerns," Ma said, adding that "we cannot even discuss issues in a rational manner."

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