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May 29, 2017

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Cross-strait dialogue boosts security, economy: president

President Ma Ying-jeou attended the Chinese Cross-Strait Taiwan Businesses Development and Research Forum (中華兩岸台商建研會) inaugural banquet yesterday afternoon.

In his speech to the forum, he boasted of the peaceful development of dialogue with the mainland during his tenure. He emphasized various indicators that he claims to be the payoff from improved ties, including commercial development, diplomatic convenience and prestige, and improved security, which he claims to be the best in close to two decades.

Ma emphasized his desire for lasting peace by recounting his vision for transforming the strife-filled past between the two sides to a grand boulevard of peace for the Taiwan Strait, according to CNA. Ma contrasted the relationship between Taipei and Beijing with that of the two Koreas, telling the audience the Korean people are living under the shadow of war despite 60 years having elapsed since the armistice of the Korean War. He boasted that in contrast the Taiwan Strait has become an area of peace, according to the report.

"The state of public security has been the best it has been in 18 years," the president was quoted by the Liberty Times as saying. Ma claimed that a 2009 "Cross-strait Joint Fight against Crime and Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement" (海峽兩岸共同打擊犯罪及司法互助協議) has enabled the extradition of many criminals who escaped to China, and fostered better cooperation between the judicial authorities on both sides of the strait, according to the report. Ma said that the occurrences of fraud cases have decreased.

Ma pointed to Kinmen as an example of the beneficial transformation that he thinks has taken hold, telling the audience that the group of islets used to be "Cold War islands" but have now become a "tourists' paradise," according to the CNA.

Ma linked the jobs created during his six years in office to his efforts to promote better relations with the mainland. He claimed that bilateral trade has promoted employment, and further claimed that 620,000 jobs over less than six years were created by large volumes of travelers arriving — eight million visits to Taiwan last year — according to CNA.

In a quote to create a positive image for his presidency, Ma said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told him "they received letters from people in the mainland asking to apply for a Taiwanese passport" because the visa-free treatment granted to Taiwan passport holders has increased , according to CNA.

Ma says that over the past five years, "a very important goal was to not let the cross-strait relationship become one of opposition but cooperation, and convince both sides to not try to take away the other's diplomatic allies," with the boon of gaining international space for Taiwanese people "that they can feel," Radio Taiwan International quoted Ma as saying.

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