Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou says the island is not ready to discuss unification with its Communist neighbor. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said on Thursday (October 1) the island was not ready to discuss unification with China, sending a firm message to an increasingly assertive Beijing eager to absorb what it considers as a renegade province. Ma, 65, told Reuters in an exclusive interview that, though the economic and social gaps between the proudly democratic island and its giant Communist neighbour were narrowing, their political differences remained wide. "The gap between the two sides are indeed narrowing, but the differences regarding some core issues remain wide. I think there is no need to talk about the issues that cannot be resolved right now. When we can narrow the gap and draw the distance between the two sides through more communication, it will be easier to resolve (the issues) if both sides are willing to talk at that time. Otherwise, it would be in vein if we talk about it now, there won't be any result," Ma told Reuters. "For example, if China believes a cross-strait relationship has developed to a point where we can discuss political issues, we would say it all depends on what kind of political questions. If (China) wants to talk about the issue of unification, we think it is not time yet..." he added. Although his eight-year presidency has been characterised by warming business ties with China, Ma, who steps down next year due to term limits, repeated how "the time was not yet ripe" for unification talks between the once bitter enemies. His comments underscore how far Taiwan has moved from embracing China following massive protests on the island last year against a cross-strait trade pact and the weakening of Ma's pro-China Nationalist party. China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war to the Communists.