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May 29, 2017

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Taiwan will not become 'the next Tibet': Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou dismissed fear yesterday that Taiwan could become "the next Tibet," amid international media concerns that Chinese authorities' human rights abuses in Tibet might eventually alienate Taiwan voters from the KMT's policy platform.

To the contrary, the KMT hopeful further stressed that Taiwan must get to the roots of the cross-strait issue and strike up a dialogue with China "step by step."

Ma made the comments in company with KMT vice-presidential hopeful Vincent Siew during an event organized yesterday to set out their policy agenda to the foreign journalists covering the upcoming presidential election.

Earlier that morning, the spokesperson for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Frank Hsieh also speculated that Taiwan might become "the next Tibet," where the Chinese authorities have launched a crackdown on bloody riots by Tibetan protesters.

Expressing concern over the Tibet riots, he said that although the situation is not yet clear, "I severely condemn the violence used by the Beijing authorities."

"The situation in Tibet is of great concern to us," he went on, as he noted that "Democracy, freedom and human rights are universal value also pursued in Taiwan."

"Taiwan is a sovereign country ... [it] is not part of China [PRC]," he added, stressing that the de facto situation in Tibet is therefore different from Taiwan or Hong Kong.

However, he added that "ways must be found to reduce tension with China," because "China is a threat but also an opportunity for Taiwan."

He explained that Taiwan rejected Chinese peace offer, titled "one country two systems," in the 1980s; but the Dalai Lama previously indicated that he could agree to such a formula to set up Tibet's international status in the future.

"We do not know how far we could go, but we have to try," said Ma, who pledged last year to put an end to Taiwan's pointless "scorched earth diplomacy" and engage in discussions with China on the premises of the "1992 Consensus.

Accordingly, both sides of the Taiwan Strait would agree that there is one China, without assenting to the exact meaning of "China" — the People's Republic of China (PRC) on the one hand, the Republic of China (ROC)-Taiwan on the other.

Further, Ma and Siew declined a CNN reporter's inquiries on whether their proposal of arranging a "common market" with China would eventually undermine Taiwan's sovereignty.

Although the European common market was established treaty of Rome in 1957, Ma noted, it was only 28 years later that workers were allowed free circulation in the union, he argued.

"It is something that has to be negotiated [with China] and won't apply immediately," he said.

Further, Siew argued that the common market advocated by the KMT will be modeled on Taiwan's participation in the WTO: a step-by-step approach based on equal footing consultations.

To begin with, they explained that would seek a normalization of cross-strait trade. Then, they would engage in negotiations for establishing Free Trade Agreements with the United States, Korea and other Asian countries in order to break Taiwan's current "economic isolation."

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