Interview with Taiwan’s president: Straight from Mr Ma’s mouth

The Economist interviewed Ma Ying-jeou, the president of Taiwan, on March 21st, 2014. The interview was used in the reporting of this week’s lead note, as well as a Banyan column, and a portion was produced as a video, available here. The following is a transcript of our correspondent’s interview, with translation from the Mandarin provided by the president’s office. Q1. The Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement has become a contentious issue in Taiwan. In the past few days, for example, students have occupied the Legislative Yuan. Why do you think there is controversy over the agreement?President Ma: In Taiwan, any matter that involves cross-strait relations will cause some degree of contention. Domestically, we have not yet reached a significant consensus on how we want to develop our relations with mainland China.The Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) is part of the Cross-Straits Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) that we signed with the mainland four years ago. We had explained then that the ECFA is a big framework that would cover trade in services and goods, settlement of disputes, and economic co-operation.The current situation is caused mainly by a misunderstanding among the public that the TiSA was not put forth for public review. As a matter of fact, over the past year or so, the government has held 110 rounds of talks with 46 different …

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