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September 21, 2017

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Golden decade ahead:MA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday laid down the blueprint for Taiwan's "gold decade," and expressed his belief that improving cross-strait ties could compel China to remove the vast number of missiles that it has aimed at the island.

Ma, speaking on the eve of his second anniversary in office, spelled out what he calls the "Six National Discourse" (六國論 or "Six Nations Discourse" depending on the translation) — namely various economic, cultural, environmental and political policies for Taiwan's development.

He said "change has already happened" two years after he took office, and he will work even harder in the coming two years to lead Taiwan into an even brighter era that will be remembered as its "golden decade."

Some of the changes include the easing of cross-strait tensions, which Ma said will increasingly make it difficult for China to justify its missiles being aimed at Taiwan, particularly with thousands of Chinese tourists arriving in Taiwan every day.

"As we try to reduce tensions and improve relations, the closer ties between the two sides will foster peace and prosperity," Ma said of Taiwan's relations with China.

"This does not accord with the mainland having more than 1,000 missiles pointing at us. The mainlanders could feel this way, and our allies, including the U.S. and Japan, could feel this way too," he told a press conference.

Ma said that a formal peace pact with China is still a possibility but he declined to speculate on a timetable for it.

"We have only opened up relations for two years, and have yet to finish much of the tree-planting work," he said.

Ma stressed that the island will not engage in an arms race with China.

Taiwan will maintain a "small but elite" force to defend itself while continuing to promote trade ties with China, he said.

The Ma administration is set to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China in June — an economic measure that Taiwan will rely on heading into the "golden decade."

Ma's "golden decade" vision is supported by technological innovations, cultural development, environmental improvements, constitutional reform, social welfare and peace — the six pillars of national development, hence the name the "Six National Discourse."

But former Vice President Annette Lu from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party described Ma's "Six National Discourse" platform as a "pure slogan."

Some DPP lawmakers claimed that Ma's vision is built on policies aimed at selling Taiwan out to China and benefiting big business groups.

But Ma, touching on Taiwan's foreign policy, said the nation has replaced "aggressive diplomacy" with "flexible diplomacy," calling an end to the vicious competition with China for diplomatic allies.

Under such an approach, Taiwan has managed to rebuild trust with the United States and Japan and has been invited to attend the World Health Assembly as an observer for the second consecutive year, he said.

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