Economists slam President Ma’s liberalization
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-02-15 04:05 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Economists on Saturday slammed President Ma Ying-jeou’s understanding of liberalization, accusing him of only wanting to favor Big Business and China.

The Ma Administration has listed the introduction of special economic model zones as a priority while also seeking the country’s rapid integration into the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

The president completely misunderstood the notion of economic and trade liberalization, National Taiwan University economics professor Kenneth Lin told a seminar organized by the Taiwan Association of University Professors Saturday. He compared Ma to a parrot who keeps repeating terms like “liberalization” and “free trade,” but in his heart, he understood those words as completely loosening all controls to benefit major corporations.

Liberalizing should not equal the abolition of all limits and restrictions without any management at all, Lin cautioned.

Turning to the government’s concept of free economic model zones, the economist accused the government of having limited itself by not introducing elements which China opposed.

Lin also warned the Ma Administration it should not see Taiwan’s TPP membership as a cure for all its economic ills. The government was wildly enthusiastic about regional trade organizations, but it had failed to assess and explain what the risks and the disadvantages would be to the country’s development, Lin said.

Other economists described the special zones as a place where restrictions and controls on flows of staff, products and funds from China were just unilaterally cast aside. Taiwan was already relatively small, and allowing restrictions on Chinese imports and people to disappear at six harbors, one airport and one business park was a dangerous concession to make, the economists said.

Ma already came under fire for approving the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China in 2010 and presenting it as the solution to Taiwan’s problems. Last year, the government signed a service trade pact with China which still has not made it through the Legislative Yuan.

The merging of the Chinese and Taiwanese economies had been advocated by Beijing’s former top cross-straits envoy Chen Yunlin, but it was Ma who was translating the idea into practice, critics said.

Social security experts warned that a government plan to promote health care on an international scale might cause a “tsunami” sweeping away the nation’s health insurance system. Talented doctors would leave needy areas inside Taiwan to go and make more money inside the special zones, thus impoverishing local health care, experts said. The higher prices for medical care in the zones would filter down and cause general increases in the rest of the country, they cautioned.

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