Ma meets Fulbright students, stresses peace
By Adam Tyrsett Kuo,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday attended the Fulbright Research Workshop held at the Mayor's Residence Arts Salon in Taipei, fielding questions from U.S. exchange students studying in Taiwan, mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.
March 8, 2013, 12:16 am TWN
The Fulbright Program is a renowned U.S. government-sponsored international educational exchange program.
The president gave a keynote speech on topics ranging from cross-strait relations, the East China Sea Peace Initiative, and Taiwan's bid to become a regional peacemaker.
“Peace is the paramount value,” Ma said, adding that Taiwan is in a special position to broker peace in East Asia because of its geographical and geopolitical characteristics.
A lot of Taiwanese people speak fluent English and Japanese, Ma said, adding that the country should take an initiative in the peaceful settlement of the Diaoyutai Islands dispute.
Ma also mentioned warming Taiwan-U.S. relations, citing Taiwan's inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
The president jokingly referred to Taiwan's inclusion in the program as a great loss to the American Institute in Taiwan, Washington's de facto embassy to Taipei, which previously handled visas applications for R.O.C. citizens traveling to the U.S.
He hastened to add light heartedly that most U.S.-bound travelers from Taiwan are, however, ardent shoppers.
National Identity and Cross-Strait Ties
When asked about the issue of Taiwanese national identity, Ma said that he believes Taiwan to be culturally, ethnically and historically Chinese, but that there are differences between the island and the Chinese mainland.
The president added that the question of national identity is less of a problem because Taiwan is a democratic society in which people may freely identify themselves as Taiwanese, Chinese or both.
Ma further cited the Netherlands for illustration, saying that the country is commonly referred to as “Holland,” which is actually a region, but that the two terms are often used interchangeably.
Ma said that as far as the Constitution is concerned, he is the president of the Republic of China, “which is commonly referred to as Taiwan.”
With regard to the question of cross-strait relations, the president stressed the necessity of shelving sovereignty disputes and focusing on de facto circumstances.
It is by doing so that room for progression is created, Ma explained.
When asked about Taiwan's task to better its economy and lessen its unemployment rate, Ma said that there are structural challenges, such as Taiwanese factories being based in mainland China, but that the government is working to create incentives for manufacturers to return.
Using the iPhone as an example, Ma said that large portions of the smartphone are made by Taiwan and mainland China, but that Taiwanese firms only receive a small portion of its sales profit.
In light of these circumstances, the country needs to move toward an innovation-driven economy in order to increase its competitive edge, the president added.
President Ma Ying-jeou speaks at the Fulbright Research Workshop held in Taipei, yesterday. The Fulbright Program is a renowned U.S. government-sponsored international educational ...