On May 12, Ma Ying-jeou, president of the Republic of China (Taiwan), outlined three strategies for increasing Taiwan’s national security—institutionalizing cross-strait rapprochement with mainland China; enhancing Taiwan’s contributions to international development; and aligning Taiwan’s defense and diplomacy. Dr. John J. Hamre, CSIS president and CEO, and Charles Freeman, holder of the CSIS Freeman Chair in China Studies, hosted the conference.
On taking office in 2008, President Ma championed a “three-no’s” policy toward cross-strait relations—“no unification, no independence, and no use of force.” He credited this approach to cross-strait rapprochement with creating a “virtuous cycle” that has increased trade, improved policing, and expanded educational exchange. In the last three years, Taiwan and mainland China have negotiated 15 agreements. The landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) alone is expected to add 4.4 percent to Taiwan’s GDP, further boosting Taiwan’s economy, which grew more than 10 percent last year.
President Ma said Taiwan is working to end “improper diplomatic practices” and adopt a foreign aid policy in line with international standards and is committed to being a responsible stakeholder in the international community. Using humanitarian work as a platform for engagement, Taiwan has contributed to disaster relief efforts around the world and is the largest donor so far to Japan’s Tohoku earthquake relief effort. President Ma said this strategy will help Taiwan reach a higher moral ground in international politics.
Taiwan’s third strategy, according to President Ma, is to align defense with diplomacy. To do so, Taiwan must build credibility and trust with its allies but also be able to defend itself. To build trust, especially with the United States, Taiwan must be aware of how its actions impact the interest of the big powers. At the same time, Taiwan is committed to defending itself with a small but strong military force. As cross-strait rapprochement continues, President Ma asked the United States to help “level the playing field” by providing weaponry to keep Taiwan’s aerial and naval integrity intact.