TAIPEI, Taiwan — President Ma Ying-jeou on Saturday linked continued improvement in relations with China and Taiwan’s standing in the world to the upcoming municipal and local elections in November, saying the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) has been “on the right side of history”.
During the last six years, he has led Taiwan in fostering close interactions with China, stabilizing the situation in the Taiwan Strait and winning the recognition and respect of the world, said Ma, who is also chairman of the ruling party.
“We’re on the right side of history and on the side of people’s needs,” he said, asking KMT supporters to help the party win the Nov. 29 elections to ensure further development in Taiwan’s relations with China and a friendly international environment.
Ma made the comments at a gathering in Taipei to announce the establishment of a group aimed at mobilizing support among Taiwanese businesspeople in China for the KMT.
He stressed the importance of the 9-in-1 municipal and local elections and admitted the race would be “tight” for KMT candidates in certain areas.
“The support of the Taiwanese business community (in China) will definitely be crucial,” he said.
On the same occasion, former Vice Premier Chiang Pin-kung urged businesspeople operating in China to return to Taiwan and cast their votes on election day.
The elections will be a skirmish before the main battle that is the presidential election in January 2016, said Chiang, who was chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) from 2008 to 2012. The SEF is a private organization funded by the government to conduct relations with China in the absence of formal ties.
Both Chiang and Lin Join-sane, his successor at the SEF, said that keeping the KMT in power will be crucial to the continued cooperation between Taiwan and China and to the further development of Taiwan’s economy. Taiwan currently relies on China/Hong Kong for nearly 40 percent of its exports and 18 percent of its imports. There are as many as one million Taiwanese people running businesses, being employed or living in China. Many, if not most, of them have supported Taiwan’s rapprochement with China since Ma took office in May 2008 after some 10 years of tensions under previous administrations when there was virtually no dialogue between the two sides.