Do Not Allow DPP Sinophobia to Hijack Taiwan's Economy
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China)
October 31, 2013
Summary: Taiwan is not some remote Shangrila. It cannot remain aloof to global competition and political realities. Preventing free trade with the Mainland means preventing the establishment of FTAs between Taiwan and the global economy. The reactionary and Sinophobic Democratic Progressive Party cannot lead Taiwan during the current wave of globalization. How can we possibly allow the DPP to hijack Taiwan's economy and lead us to ruin?
Full text below:
The day before yesterday the legislature swiftly passed the Taiwan New Zealand Economic Partnership Agreement (ANZTEC) and amended the Trade Law. Ruling and opposition party legislators agreed that the law should go into effect as soon as possible. They agreed to amend the Customs Import Tariff next Tuesday during its third reading. This shows that TISA was stalled in the Legislative Yuan because the Legislative Yuan refused to act, and not because it could not act. TISA took an excruciatingly long time to pass.
The Mainland Region is Taiwan's largest trading partner. In 2012, bilateral trade reached $160 billion. New Zealand is our 10th largest trading partner. Taiwan New Zealand trade last year amounted to 12 billion NT, only 10% of cross-Strait trade. New Zealand's main exports to Taiwan are agricultural products. They have a greater impact on our agriculture. In today's Legislative Yuan, the DPP has the final word. Alas, the DPP's attitude toward the Taiwan New Zealand Economic Cooperation Agreement and the highly advantageous TISA has been mindlessly Sinophobic. Some DPP officials are enthusiastic. They are trying to improve relations with the Mainland. But the essence of the DPP has not changed since the Chen Shui-bian era. The DPP would rather starve to death than end its enmity with Mainland China. As long politics trumps economics, Taiwan's economy will find it difficult to survive.
Taiwan's economy is sick. It is on life support. According to Ministry of Economic Affairs and Department of Statistics, Europe and America have bounced back. As a result Taiwan exports grew 2% over last year, better than expected. But among the traditional industries, including machinery and base metals, demand has remained weak. We have traditionally led Korea in machine tool exports to the U.S.. But purchase orders show that in September of this year, our positions were reversed for the first time in history. This was probably due to the impact of the US South Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Six ASEAN countries have apparently ordered petroleum products from the Mainland instead of from us. This is probably due to the impact of the Mainland's trade agreements with six ASEAN countries.
Taiwan must swiflty increase its participation in global FTAs. Only then will it be able to compete with South Korea and the Mainland. Zhu Yunpeng, former Chairman of the Insurance Stabilization Fund, has warned that Taiwan and South Korean exports have a 63% overlap. South Korea and the Mainland will sign an FTA next year. This is sure to impact the domestic textile, petrochemical, and semiconductor industries. Korean service industries will also make a major drive into the Mainland market. They have swiftly passed TISA and TIGA. Taiwan may have difficulty maintaining even a 2% growth rate. Mainland "department store king" Wang Heng is the Chairman of the Golden Eagle Group. Wang said Taiwan has lagged behind Singapore and South Korea in signing FTAs with foreign governments. This has led to a decline in Taiwan's imports and exports. Taiwan must be alert to this.
Taiwan is accustomed to being first among the Asian Tigers. Today however, it is first only in unemployment. The public is worried sick. But the politicians persist in their mud slinging. Major bills remain stalled in the legislature while the ruling and opposition parties dither. Demagogues take to the street to denounce the president, oblivious to the fact that political protests merely increase domestic strife and universal anxiety. They do nothing to improve the stifling economic atmosphere. The Ma government lines up economic advisors who paint a rosy pictures. Noted economic advisors on the periphery of government offer clear and logical solutions. But given the realities of politics they are all for naught.
Take TISA for example. The legislature called for 16 public hearings before beginning its review. The KMT has held eight public hearings in short order. The DPP by contrast, has held one public hearing every two weeks. It will take four months to hold them all. The DPP's intention is obvious. It is determined to delay the bill until next year. It wants to make TISA its opening shot in next year's Seven in One Elections. It wants to turn a plain and simple economic and trade agreement into a DPP campaign tool. Taiwan's economy has long been crippled this way by the DPP.
Every year millions of people from Taiwan visit the Mainland, for tourism, education, employment, business, or capital investment. The emigration of people with talent is obvious. Taiwan's spending power has been relocated. Some fear Taiwanese will weary of Mainland tourists if too many are allowed in. Mainland capital is considered as fearsome as a man-eating tiger. Mainland talent is considered just as fearsome because they might steal our childrens' jobs. We no longer have the courage to fight. We expect a life of ease. We want our little pleasures. People overseas with lofty aspirations scramble to make something of themselves. But here on Taiwan, such ambitions have vanished amidst political bickering and confrontation. Our capital and talent have steadily flowed outward. Outside capital and talent meanwhile, have not flowed inward. Taiwan's economy has steadily shrunk. Taiwan's atmosphere has become stifling. Even the little pleasures have become luxuries.
The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. Does it really not understand the importance of opening Taiwan to the global economy? As Vision Magazine founder Charles Kao said, the global economy may be in an indeterminate state. But the Mainland, Taiwan, and Hong Kong have evolved into an economic region rivaling the United States. This represents the "Chinese Century." The world cannot ignore the existence of Mainland China. How can Taiwan remain outside of it, and forsake an advantage that is rightfully ours? Economic opening involves shocks. The Taiwan New Zealand Economic Partnership Agreement will result in shocks. But when the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, the choice is clear. One must welcome competition in order to move forward.
Taiwan has never been afraid of competition. It has only been afraid of not having a stage. In the early years, Taiwan businessmen traveled the world over with only a suitcase in hand, drumming up business. In the early years, Mainland policy was uncertain. Courageous businessmen ventured onto the Mainland to seek their fortunes. They long ago proved that Taiwanese have the courage and determination. Yet the DPP continues to dig its heels in over TISA. It purports to be "protecting Taiwan businesses." In fact, it is doing just the opposite. It is binding them hand and foot.
Taiwan is not some remote Shangrila. It cannot remain aloof to global competition and political realities. Preventing free trade with the Mainland means preventing the establishment of FTAs between Taiwan and the global economy. The reactionary and Sinophobic Democratic Progressive Party cannot lead Taiwan during the current wave of globalization. How can we possibly allow the DPP to hijack Taiwan's economy and lead us to ruin?