Ma Ying-jeou eyes closer Taiwan-US ties

Ma Ying-jeou (center) and Francisco Sanchez (third right), U.S. undersecretary of commerce, celebrate Taiwan’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Oct. 31.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said Taiwan’s inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program will allow the two sides to develop closer relations while bilateral development in all aspects will see more rapid growth.

“The U.S. is our third largest trading partner and leading source of foreign investment,” Ma said. “The official launch of the VWP Nov. 1 will help the two sides resume talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement and create conditions for the nation to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

The president made the remarks Oct. 31 at a reception hosted by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs to celebrate the Taiwan’s inclusion in the VWP.

Ma noted that since he took office in 2008, he has been working to create a peaceful and prosperous environment for Taiwan by improving cross-strait ties and expanding the nation’s international connections.

“These efforts are gradually beginning to pay off. For instance, last year U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pointed out at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, that Taipei is an important security and economic partner for Washington.”

Following Taiwan’s inclusion in the VWP, Ma said, 129 countries or regions grant ROC citizens visa-free entry or landing visa privileges, accounting for 98 percent of the areas most visited by Taiwanese.

The MOFA noted that due to stringent U.S. homeland security requirements only 37 countries have been admitted to the visa-waiver program. “To join the VWP as the only nation without diplomatic ties with Washington is no mean feat,” the ministry said. “It indicates that our people are recognized as law-abiding travelers.”

The number of ROC nationals visiting the U.S. reached 410,000 in 2011, surpassing the 240,000 journeying to Europe, 70,000 to Canada and 60,000 to Australia, the MOFA added.

Grace Kuo
Taiwan Today