Taiwan's president says relations with political and military rival China are moving forward despite widespread public opposition that crested with a student occupation of parliament last year.

President Ma Ying-jeou, who seldom speaks in public, made the comments at a news conference Wednesday in Taipei.

When Ma took office in 2008, his government accelerated efforts to ease the formerly icy relations with China by avoiding politics to instead discuss trade, investment and transportation links.

But Ma's engagement with China hit its strongest wave of resistance at home last year when tens of thousands of protesters occupied parliament and surrounding streets in Taipei to demand more oversight of relations with Beijing or a cancellation of any future agreements.