Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou says China relations will continue to deepen

TAIPEI (Bloomberg) - Taiwan's relations with China will continue to deepen and local election losses for the ruling Kuomintang in November were not related to cross-strait ties, President Ma Ying-jeou said on Wednesday.

"Doing anything with China is controversial but we can't abandon policies just because they are controversial," Ma told foreign correspondents in Taipei.

A 24-day student occupation of Taiwan's legislature last year sparked a widespread backlash against greater economic integration with China, highlighted by a services industries agreement signed in 2013.

Since taking office in 2008, Ma has ushered in direct flights and eased cross-strait investment rules. The governments in Taipei and Beijing met for the first time in February 2014 since they split in 1949.

A cross-strait goods trade agreement, membership in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and setting up representative offices in China are still in the works, Ma said. The services deal is pending legislative review.

Presidential and legislative elections will be held on Jan. 16, 2016, across Taiwan. The largest opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which once advocated for formal Taiwan independence, is set to nominate party chief Tsai Ing-wen as its presidential candidate.

Ma's second and final term ends in May 2016.