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September 24, 2017

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President Ma denies sidestepping political issues with mainland

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou denied yesterday an accusation that his government deals with China only on economic issues while avoiding anything political, saying there has been no attempt "to deliberately sidestep issues that are politically sensitive."

"We can proceed so long as it is necessary," he told Taiwan's delegation to the 9th Cross-Strait Economic Trade and Culture Forum that will open Saturday in Nanning, in China's Guangxi Province.

Ma cited the agreement Taiwan signed with China in 2009 on bilateral cooperation on fighting crime and mutual judicial assistance.

The issues covered by that agreement are not economic but instead have "certain political sensitivity" as they involve the two sides' power to govern and exercise jurisdiction, he said.

He cited ongoing bilateral talks on nuclear safety and the exchange of representative offices as two other examples.

The exchange of offices "is neutral in itself but there is no question that the issue naturally has some political sensitivity," Ma said, adding that his government did not avoid the issue because of that aspect.

He said there is no change in his government's policy on cross-strait relations and he expressed hope that bilateral relations will deepen and expand under the policy.

The president also again clarified his comment about the cross strait relationship being "not international."

He has been criticized for making the comment during his Double Ten National Day address earlier this month. Critics describe his characterization as indicating an ultimate goal of unification between the two sides and representing a concession to Beijing.

The reason for saying that is because mainland China remains a territory of the Republic of China under the R.O.C. Constitution, he said.

"That has not changed and it is impossible for us to recognize another state or regime in our territory," Ma told the delegation, led by Wu Po-hsiung, honorary chairman of the ruling Kuomintang.

Taiwan cannot ignore or deny the fact that the communist authorities have ruled mainland China for 64 years, he went on.

"If the two sides can first stop denying each other, then we can have some common ground and take care of each other's needs on that basis," he added.

"Such is the special relationship that exists between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait," said the president.

Ma also reaffirmed the principles of his cross strait policy, including no unification, no independence and no use of force.

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