Monday, December 14, 2009

Taiwan's Real Crisis: An Inability to Get Beyond Mob Sentiment

Taiwan's Real Crisis: An Inability to Get Beyond Mob Sentiment
China Times News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
December 14, 2009

The recent election was the "closest race in the history of Blue vs. Green political rivalry." Following the elections, President Ma offered to debate DPP chairman Tsai Ing-wen. The Democratic Progressive Party said it had waited a long time for this, and that it did not fear debate. If the two parties can remain rational while debating ECFA, the result would be good for Taiwan. Many people are probably looking forward to it. If ECFA remains merely a political football during election campaigns, then Taiwan will continue to be inundated by waves of populist rumor-mongering. Society will continue to wallow in emotionalism that lead nowhere. That is Taiwan's real crisis.
The Democratic Progressive Party's confidence has gotten a boost from the election. Next week will be the fourth meeting between Chiang Ping-kuen and Chen Yunlin. The host, Taichung City Mayor Jason Hu, has repeatedly begged the Green camp to allow the summit to proceed without incident. Many business leaders have also expressed concern over potential trouble during the Chiang-Chen meeting. But they appear unable to move the Democratic Progressive Party, which is determined to do everything in its power to sabotage the meeting. It has already decided to widen the scope of its protests "in response to the Chiang/Chen meeting's seven-member group." It has vowed that it will stage "spectacular" protests. The Green camp intends to "make Chen Yunlin look bad." During the previous Chiang/Chen summit in Taipei, the DPP urged many of its supporters to butt heads with the police. They left the public unsettled. They left blood in the streets. Just exactly who made whom look bad may be a matter of opinion.

Amidst this atmosphere of tension, Democratic Progressive Party legislators shrilly demanded without success that the Mainland Affairs Council make public the name of the hotel where Chen Yunlin would be staying. It is of course not hard to imagine what might happen once Chen Yunlin's place of abode in Taichung was made public. That is why the MAC has remained tight-lipped, and has no intention of disclosing such information. DPP officials have harangued administration officials, demanding to know, "Chen Yunlin, where are you? Chen Yunlin, where are you?" In fact they ought to be asking, "Taiwan, where are you?" Other East Asian countries such as South Korea have signed FTAs or CEPAs with other countries. But the Republic of China has yet to take even the first step. What kind of future will it have?

Over the past decade, Taiwan's exports to major import markets have been declining year by year. In 1999, in its largest export market, the U.S., products from Taiwan accounted for 3.43% of all imports. It ranked seventh in the world. In 2008, those exports had declined to 0.72%. It no longer ranked in the Top 10. Its shares in the European Union and the Japanese import market during the same period also declined from 2.77% and 4.12%, to 1.55% and 2.86%. Taiwan's global exports market share declined from 2.19% in 1999 to 1.59% in 2008.

South Korea and Singapore have been actively signing FTAs and ECFAs with other countries. South Korea and mainland China began signing such agreements in 2006. Consider joint studies of FTAs. Once an FTA has been signed, the vast majority of South Korea's exports to Mainland China will be tax exempt. Currently exports from Taiwan to Mainland China are subject to an average tariff of 8.94%. It is not hard to imagine what impact such export competitiveness from South Korea will have on Taiwan. Singapore has signed more FTAs than any other country. In 2003, Singapore exported less than Taiwan. But over the past five years, its export growth rate has increased to 18.6%. In 2004 its exports overtook Taiwan's. Also of concern is ASEAN has become Taiwan's second largest export target. Its first is Mainland China. Exports from Taiwan to Mainland China and ASEAN already account for over 50% of total exports. In 2010, the "ASEAN 10 plus One" FTA will take effect. The "One" of course refers to Mainland China. Henceforth products from both regions will be tax-free. If Taiwan cannot participate, what will the consequences be? The DPP is unparalleled at urging crowds to take to the streets. But has it ever asked itself what is the point of expending all the DPP's energy on a single individual such as Chen Yunlin? Even assuming it succeeds in "making Chen Yunlin look bad," what of it? Consider another issue. Suppose we don't sign ECFA? What is the Democratic Progressive Party's alternative for improving Taiwan's economy? The DPP says it is not afraid to debate ECFA with the KMT, but that it wants to wait until ECFA becomes more concrete. If that is the case, why not give Chiang Ping-kuen and Chen Yunlin the chance to discuss it first? Why not give them a chance to hold the necessary consultations over ECFA? Isn't the whole point of consultations to make ECFA more concrete, thereby allowing the DPP to debate its merits with the KMT? When others want to consult over ECFA, the DPP won't let them. When others want to debate ECFA with the DPP, the DPP says it is unwilling to debate them until the issue is more concrete. What would the DPP have the KMT do? Tsai Ing-wen has served as MAC chairwoman. She was a member of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party administration. She need not be so passive. She need not wait until the KMT and CCP have concluded their consultations and arrived at concrete conclusions before she plans her next move. Why not take the initiative to develop the Democratic Progressive Party's own edition of ECFA, or whatever they wish to call it? The Democratic Progressive Party says it "loves Taiwan." Shouldn't it have confidence in its ability to work out a better solution than the KMT? A solution more favorable to Taiwan? A solution more feasible? We hope the DPP will not just keep insisting that other people's beef is toxic. For the good of Taiwan, the DPP should come out and tell us: "Where's the beef?"

中時電子報 新聞
中國時報  2009.12.14
社論-該在意的是 台灣根本走不出去





韓國與新加坡這些年都積極與各國簽定FTA與ECFA,韓國與大陸自二○○六年開始,就簽署FTA有關事項進行共同研究,一旦簽署FTA,韓國出口產品到大陸,絕大部分可享受免稅,而目前台灣產品出口大陸的平均關稅率是八.九四%,這對韓國與台灣的出口競爭力會造成怎樣的影響,實在不難想像。新加坡是全世界簽署FTA最多的國家之一。二○○三年新加坡的出口低於台灣,但近五年來其出口增加率高達十八.六%,二○○四年出口開始超越台灣。另外值得關切的是,東協已成為台灣出口第二大對象,第一為大陸,台灣對大陸及東協出口,已超過總出口的五○%以上;「東協十加一」(中國大陸)FTA在二○一○年生效,此後該兩地區的產品往來完全免稅,如果台灣不能參與,後果是什麼?帶領民眾上街嗆聲、抗爭功夫一流的民進黨,是否想過,民進黨以全黨腦力和精力拿來對付陳雲林這「一個人」,到底意義何在?羞辱了陳雲林又如何?換另一個問題,不簽ECFA,民進黨對台灣經濟更好的主張是什麼? 民進黨強調不怕針對ECFA與國民黨進行辯論,但要等到ECFA有具體結論時再講,如果是這樣,卻又為什麼不給機會讓江陳會好好談談呢,針對ECFA進行必要的協商,不就是為了將來可以拿出讓民進黨願意一辯的具體內容嗎?怎麼人家要談,你不許,要跟你辯,你又說沒具體內容不辯,民進黨到底要國民黨怎麼做才對?話又說回來,做過陸委會主委的蔡英文、有過執政經驗的民進黨其實也不用那麼被動,一定要等到國共兩黨談出了個具體結論後才要看看別人打算怎麼做,民進黨何不主動擬定自己的ECFA(或其他名稱)的版本,愛台灣的民進黨應該有信心會訂出比國民黨更厲害、對台灣更有利、更有可行性的版本吧。希望民進黨不要只會說別人的牛肉有毒,為了台灣好,也端出自己的牛肉吧。

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