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June 24, 2017

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Ma fields students' questions on 6th anniversary in office

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday gave a speech at a university in Taichung, fielding questions from students and reporters.

The administration hasn't ignored the anxieties of the younger generation, but it hasn't done enough to address these concerns, the president said.

The president added that the administration will take a five-pronged approach by solving the discrepancy between education and employment, helping young entrepreneurs, helping bring about more affordable housing, embracing trade liberalization and allowing young people to take part in policy making.

The president explained that he has asked the Executive Yuan to establish a youth advisory group to better address the concerns of the younger generation.

Pact, Nuke 4 Protests

The government was not able to meet protester's demands to reject the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, but it does agree with their proposal to push for a cross-strait agreement supervisory act, the president said, adding that the Kuomintang caucus had proposed such a bill in February.

When the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration ceased construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, the stock market fell for three consecutive months, after which the DPP administration decided to restart construction, the president pointed out, adding that his administration's decision to "halt" construction as opposed to scrapping the power plant is aimed at giving the next generation the freedom to make its own choice.

Responding to concerns that the administration is making Taiwan more and more economically dependent on mainland China, the president said that under the DPP administration, Taiwan exports to mainland China grew from 24 percent to 40 percent of all exports, and that under his administration, that figure has decreased between 1 and 2 percentage points.

In terms of Taiwan receiving orders from abroad and manufacturing goods in mainland China, figures grew from 12 percent to 46 percent over eight years under the previous administration, the president said, adding that during his six years in office, that number has only increased 4 percentage points.

The recent student protests reflect the anxieties that the younger generation has over cross-strait relations, but the nation must realize that mainland China is the second largest economy in the world, the president said. "This is something that we cannot ignore."

Not only is mainland China the second largest economy, it is also the largest trading partner of South Korea, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, the president added.

What the government needs to do is maximize opportunities and minimize risks, which are things that the administration has been pursuing as part of its cross-strait policies, the president said.

Legislature Seats

When asked about DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang's (蘇貞昌) suggestion to increase the number of seats within the Legislature, the president said that the last time related regulations were revised, the number of seats was decreased to 113 from 225 — a DPP proposal strongly supported by former DPP Chairman Lin Yi-hsiung (林義雄).

Less than 10 years later, Su is now advocating the restoration of the previous number of seats, the president said. "I am very curious as to whether he asked Mr. Lin for his opinion."

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