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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Of course he does

From today's Taipei Times newspaper:

"President Ma Ying-jeou 馬英九 yesterday expressed hopes for closer 'special relations' between Taipei 台北 and Tōkyō 東京, adding that the words best described the current relations between the two countries, which his administration would seek to maintain. Ma said that despite the absence of official diplomatic ties, the relationship between Taipei and Tōkyō was one of special partners. Closer ties could be of benefit to the peoples of both countries and their government, he said. Ma made the remarks while receiving a delegation of Japanese parliamentarians at the Presidential Office yesterday afternoon."

Ma has a long history of saying to audiences exactly those words they expect to hear from him, and then following up on those remarks by not following up on them, if you catch my drift. But who knows? Considering the difficulties his government has faced since taking over four months ago (much of it self-induced), not to mention the work going on behind the scenes by KMT 中国国民党 heavyweights like Wang Jin-pyng 王金平, Ma might actually mean what he said to his Japanese visitors. Vice President Vincent Siew 蕭万長 echoed his boss' remarks:

" the hope that Taiwan and Japan would establish a 'special partnership,' with Taipei and Tōkyō now in the process of developing economic partnership agreements that, he said, would have a greater impact than a free-trade agreement. 'Despite the lack of [official] diplomatic relations, we have a close historical, cultural and trade relationship,' Siew said while receiving Hatakenaka Atsushi, the new chairman of the Interchange Association Japan, at the Presidential Office yesterday morning. 'This special relationship is in fact closer than the one we have with our [official] diplomatic allies,' he said."

And that's not all:
"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs 中華民国外交部 yesterday also congratulated new Japanese Prime Minister Tarō Asō 麻生太郎 and said it expected bilateral relations to continue to grow under the new leadership."

It appears there are some serious efforts being made to reach out to the Japanese, quite a change from the chest-puffing that was going on back in June during the spat over the Senkaku Islands 尖閣諸島.

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