TAIPEI, March 9 (Xinhua) -- Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said on Wednesday that peaceful cross-Strait development should continue as it benefits the people of Taiwan.
Ma spoke at a ceremony in Taipei to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Taiwan-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). He called for an unwavering pursuit of peaceful development despite changes to Taiwan's ruling party.
"We are all Chinese descendants and must try all means to seek cross-Strait peace. There will be no prosperity without peace," Ma said. "No matter which political party is in power, it should have a clear understanding of the reality of the cross-Strait situation."
"A standstill in the development of cross-Strait relations will harm the interests and welfare of 23 million Taiwan people," Ma said, adding that Taiwan would continue to negotiate with the mainland under the terms of the 1992 Consensus.
The SEF was authorized by Taiwanese authorities and founded on March 9, 1991, to handle cross-Strait issues just after cross-Strait relations entered a conciliatory stage. Later that year, the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), SEF's mainland-based counterpart, was established.
The SEF and the ARATS have achieved a lot under the 1992 Consensus which says both sides of the Taiwan Strait adhere to the one-China principle.
In 2008, cross-Strait relations underwent an historical transformation. They realized "three direct links" of cross-Strait mail, trade, air and shipping services.
Since then, both sides have signed 15 agreements, including the landmark Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). Other agreements reached include those on cross-Straits cooperation on tourism, economics, and mainland investment in Taiwan.
SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung announced that the organization's main goal this year is to negotiate four more agreements through the ECFA's Economic Cooperation Committee.
The SEF hoped the agreements can be reached to ensure the competitiveness of Taiwan's products in Asian markets, said Chiang.
At the ceremony, the SEF gave an award to the late Koo Chen-fu, its first chairman, for his outstanding contribution to cross-Strait peace. The award was presented by Ma Ying-jeou to Koo's wife, Cecilia Y. Koo.
The SEF's vice chairman Kao Koong-lian read a letter from ARATS which pledged to continue to work with the SEF to achieve cross-Strait peace and protect the welfare of the people.
The ARATS's letter said the mechanism set up between the two organizations had helped resolve concrete problems in cross-Strait exchanges, and a platform had been established for officials and people from various circles on both sides to communicate with each other.