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June 26, 2017

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China needs to understand Taiwan better: Ma

TAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou urged China to do more homework on Taiwan, in response to a Beijing official's statement earlier this month that China's 1.3 billion people should be involved in deciding Taiwan's future.

In a June 19 interview in Taipei with U.S. magazine Forbes, the president was quoted as saying that the Chinese spokeswoman stated Beijing's traditional position without realizing that, for Taiwan, this is unacceptable.

"So even though the mainland has invested a great deal in researching Taiwan — their organizations often send people to Taiwan — they still ... need to do more homework." Ma was quoted as saying in the interview posted on the Forbes website Thursday.

In the interview, the president also defended the trade-in-services pact with China that was signed by his administration but has been blocked by the opposition in the Legislative Yuan. He dismissed as groundless the opposition's claims that the pact was negotiated behind closed doors and should therefore be withdrawn.

Citing the fact that 144 seminars and 20 public hearings concerning the pact were held by either the Economics Ministry or the Legislative Yuan, Ma said the pact has "gone through the most open and transparent process in R.O.C. constitutional history."

But the opposition's obstruction, typically by occupying the podium at the legislature, has posed a major challenge to Taiwan's democracy, Ma said.

The president said the service industry has developed rapidly in Taiwan, but that its exports are limited.

The trade-in-services pact with China is estimated to increase Taiwan's service trade exports to China by 37 percent and will demonstrate Taiwan's commitment to trade liberation, which is vital to Taiwan's bids to join other trade blocs such as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Ma said.

However, the president said his administration will explain to the public "more sooner, more broadly and more carefully" in the future while promoting similar agreements, in order to dispel the doubts or fears many local people have about China.

The president said he sees major challenges for his ruling Kuomintang in the year-end local elections, but he added that the improving economy in the last five months, and the booming stock market — which currently boasts the best performance among any of the Asian Tigers — might help his party to meet the challenges.

No matter how the elections turn out, "we will do our best. I'm very confident" said the president.

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