President of Taiwan visits the islands - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

President of Taiwan visits the islands

President Ma Ying Jeou (second from left) President Ma Ying Jeou (second from left)
Marshall Wu Marshall Wu
Patrick O'Leary Patrick O'Leary
Charles Morrison Charles Morrison

By Duncan Armstrong

HONOLULU (KHNL) - He was only here for 24 hours, but President Ma Ying Jeou of Taiwan made the most of his brief stop here in the islands. The president was escorted around the island to a number of spots, checking out Chinatown and taking in a breakfast meeting with Governor Lingle. But he drew his biggest crowd at the East West Center for a casual lunch where he talked about the future of his country.

Security was very tight on the University of Hawaii campus as they waited for the arrival of the Taiwanese president.

People like Marshall Wu waited anxiously for the arrival of a leader that won their last election, with 58 percent of the votes.

"I do believe he will help Taiwan, at least I hope so. But it's only the first year of his term and we will wait and see when his term is done," said Wu.

During the visit, some island residents held a peaceful protest. Holding signs for one China and one Taiwan.

Before heading into a 90 minute lunch, President Ma Ying Jeou stood for pictures with East West Center leadership. Patrick O'Leary waited outside the East West Center for about an hour to get a look at the president, because he is a former 10 year resident of Taiwan.

"What he represents, freedom of 22 million people living in Taiwan shouldn't be understated," said O'Leary.

One of the people who attended the lunch with the Taiwan leader was East West Center President Charles Morrison.

"He seemed to me, to be very down to earth, very practical. He also mentioned there are 2 flash points in East Asia: The Korean Peninsula and the Taiwan Straights. If you compare them today, the situation in the Korean Peninsula is very bad but the situation in the Taiwan Straights is good and improving. And this is something that is beneficial not just to the United States and the mainland but the people in Taiwan are really benefiting," said Morrison.

They are benefiting from increased economic transactions. Part of the conversation at lunch was about Taiwain's changing relations with mainland China, changing for the better.

"I should quote one thing that he did say, 'Taiwan wants to be a peacemaker not to be perceived as a troublemaker in world affairs,'" said Morrison.

This is the President's second visit to the University of Hawaii. His first came in 1971 as part of a visitors program to the US.

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