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Ma Ying-jeou: China should be neither glorified nor demonized
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-08-04 03:54 PM
President Ma Ying-jeou told members of the ROC National Federation of Industries Monday that they must not glorify China, nor can they demonize it in determining how they should approach relations with companies and people on the other side of the Taiwan Strait. Ma noted that it is impossible to ignore China and its formidable economic prowess. At the same time, he said, business people in Taiwan, as well as the government, must maintain an attitude of objectivity and reason in making decisions regarding trade and other dealings with China.

Ma said that domestic manufacturers must "practice kung fu" in maintaining their businesses, explaining that this means upgrading their technology and facilities domestically while working to remove barriers to trade and get rid of tariffs in the foreign sphere. One way Taiwan can do this, he said, is by joining organizations such as the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in order to enhance the competitiveness of products from Taiwan.

The federation recently released its 2014 White Paper and Suggestions on Government Policy, a review of the Ma government’s performance in the past year and ideas for policies that will help to improve the nation’s economic outlook. The report criticized Ma’s 633 target of 6% economic growth, CPI increase of less than 3% and per capita income of US$30,000 as a “bubble” and called on the government to bring about radical improvements in its administration of the government and the nation. Ma spoke with a number of members of the federation in a meeting with key government officials to discuss Taiwan's economic and industrial woes and look for solutions to the nation’s problems.

One of the most frequently-voiced concerns in the National Conference on Economic and Trade Affairs organized by the Executive Yuan recently was whether Taiwan is already becoming too dependent on economic and trade relations with China. Attendees in the three-day conference were leery of the effects such a dependency can have on decision-making and politics in Taiwan.

Ma addressed such concerns by noting that China has already replaced Japan this year as the largest-importing economy for goods and services from Taiwan. This shows that China's strength and economic prowess cannot be ignored, said Ma. He stressed that the government will continue to maintain an objective mindset in wielding its economic and political decision-making powers. He noted that the strategy Taiwan needs to take in the future is to "maximize opportunities and minimize risk." This, he explained, means maintaining contact with China, but being careful at all times to make sure that everything the government does will be geared to the benefit of the people of Taiwan.

Ma admitted that the challenges facing Taiwan are very severe. He cautioned that progress toward inclusion in the TPP and RCEP is slow and there probably will not be too much change in the situation at least in the rest of this year.

In addition, he said, Taiwan's industries are in severe need of upgrading to move away from traditional forms of industry, consolidate some of the nation’s main industries, and breed new forms of emerging industries. He noted that in July the Ministry of Economics initiated a program of "Industrial Upgrading and Restructuring" to enhance the organization and performance of manufacturers in Taiwan and assist them in competing with their counterparts in other countries around the region.

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