China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 21, 2015
Executive Summary: Taiwan's economy is sliding deeper and deeper into recession. DPP chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen is getting closer and closer to assuming power. Her pronouncements are moving closer and closer to the political center. But conflicts have arisen between her and past DPP economic policies. She needs to explain the differences between her past and present policies. Do they differ? If they do, why?
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Taiwan's economy is sliding deeper and deeper into recession. DPP chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen is getting closer and closer to assuming power. Her pronouncements are moving closer and closer to the political center. But conflicts have arisen between her and past DPP economic policies. She needs to explain the differences between her past and present policies. Do they differ? If they do, why?
The most important trade meeting between Taipei and Washington is the Ninth Taiwan-US Trade and investment framework agreement (TIFA), to be held in October in Taipei. Minister of Economic Affairs Teng Chen-chung says "The issue of pork will not be discussed at this time". But as everyone knows, the United States' key interest in the TIFA meeting is US beef and pork imports to Taiwan. Three years ago, AIT Taipei Office Director William A. Stanton gave a speech before leaving office. He said the US beef controversy is a symbol of Taiwan's trade protectionism. If the government on Taiwan bans US beef imports, Taipei will have a hard time restarting TIFA talks with Washington. Taiwan can then forget about joining the TPP. So how do Tsai Ing-wen and DPP stand on this issue?
The US beef and pork import issue is considered a bipartisan battle. It is a typical case. The common people are not consulted. The economic consequences are ignored. When the DPP and Chen Shui-bian were in power, mad cow disease broke out in the US. The government on Taiwan banned the import of US beef. The US government then applied pressure. In 2007, during the sixth TIFA meeting, the US ended TIFA negotiations because Taiwan refused to allow US beef imports. The Chen Shui-bian government attempted to give in and allow imports, but the KMT vigorously opposed and Chen's effort failed.
Following ruling party change, the contestants switched positions. In 2012, in order to restart TIFA, the Ma government prepared to allow US beef containing ractopamine. The DPP expressed opposition, and blasted the Ma government for ignoring public health by allowing in "poisoned beef" from the US. It demanded a "zero tolerance"policy. DPP legislators forcibly occupied the legislature for five days and four nights. Their political theater is still fresh in our memory. In October, TIFA will reconvene. Tsai Ing-wen considers a DPP return to power a foregone conclusion. She has told foreigners "We are confident that next year we will be the ruling party". Tsai Ing-wen has repeatedly pledged to join the TPP. Does Tsai seek to mend Taipei-Washington economic and trade relations? Does she seek to persuade the US to support Taiwan's bid for TPP membership? If she does, she and the DPP will need to repudiate their past position on US beef and pork imports. Isn't it time for Tsai Ing-wen to explain her position on US beef and pork imports?
Outside observers have long worried about Democratic Progressive Party rule. Will it impose a Closed Door Policy on foreign trade? Tsai Ing-wen has pledged that the economy will be more open once the DPP takes power. But recall DPP criticism of Ma government fiscal and economic policy, Where was DPP support for free trade? The STA was denounced as "cozying up to [Mainland] China and selling out Taiwan". The DPP opposed it to the bitter end. The MTA remains delayed even this day. The DPP leveled "eight criticisms" against the FEPZ test case. It engaged in obstructionism until the bill eventually died, stillborn. The DPP stubbornly insists that free trade will hurt the most vulnerable SMEs.
But pray tell how free trade harms vulnerable industries? Doesn't economic liberalization allow external stimuli and competition to stimulate domestic industrial upgrading? Doesn't it eliminate inappropriate and non-competitive industries and companies? Tsai Ing-wen must explain herself. She must explain how she intends to liberalize Taiwan's economy. She must tell us whether she supports the MTA and STA. If she persists in opposing the STA, does she also intend to oppose the Gold and Silver Conference now under way. After all, it too requires cross-Strait liberalization.
If Tsai's answer is "We must not look only to the Mainland", then she must tell the public and the business community how she intends to persuade the US, EU, and other heavyweight economies to sign FTAs, when she herself refuses to sign the MTA and STA with the Mainland. How can Taiwan's economy and exports ignore the world's second largest economy, yet not be affected?
Are we to understand that upon assuming power, Tsai Ing-wen will repudiate the Tsai Ing-wen of yesterday?
Tsai Ing-wen's election campaign four years ago, trumpeted "fairness and justice". It emphasizes fair distribution and social justice. People on Taiwan have long considered the lack of real estate taxes and capital gains taxes as a cause of social injustice and a reason for the widening wealth gap. Recently the capital gains tax has caught the attention of the Legislative Yuan and the public. The DPP and the KMT have overtly supported its passage while covertly sabotaging it. They have offered a Lin Chuan version of the tax. In fact, the Lin Chuan version is merely one of many versions of the capital gains tax. It is definitely not rooted in the principles of capital gains tax laws. Is this consistent with Tsai Ing-wen's calls for "fairness and justice"?
Focusing on fiscal policy is certainly an option. It is undeniably a professional approach. For the sake of Taiwan's economic development, will the Tsai of today repudiate the Tsai of Yesterday? We hope so. But recall how the opposition DPP deviated from professionalism yesterday. Recall how it incited populist opposition and forced Taiwan to lose years of valuable economic progress.
總統參選人蔡英文也一步步邁向執政， 她的政見與發言也愈來愈向中間靠攏。 但檢視她與民進黨過去的各項經濟政策主張， 卻出現種種矛盾衝突現象，她可能該更明確的告訴民眾， 她過去與現在的主張，是否有什麼不同？為什麼會有改變？
第九屆台美貿易暨投資架構協定（TIFA）將於10月在台北召開 ，雖然經濟部長鄧振中說「豬肉問題這次不會談」， 但眾所皆知的是美國在TIFA會議中，始終如一關切的「 核心利益」，就是美牛、美豬的進口准入問題。3年前， 美國在台協會台北辦事處處長司徒文在卸任前的一次演講中就曾明白 表示，美牛爭議是台灣實施貿易保護的具體象徵； 如果台灣政府禁止美牛進口，台灣就很難與美國重啟台美TIFA談 判，更別說台灣未來要加入TPP。蔡英文與民進黨， 到底對這個問題持什麼態度呢？
典範案例」。民進黨阿扁執政時期，因美國爆發狂牛症， 台灣政府禁止美牛進口，後因美國政府壓力，在2007年第六屆T IFA會議後，美國就因台灣不開放美牛進口，停止TIFA召開。 阿扁政府曾經要屈服開放，但因國民黨大力反對而未能成功。
復，馬政府準備開放美牛與瘦肉精，此時換民進黨大力反對， 抨擊馬政府枉顧國民健康、開放美國「毒牛」進口、堅持「零驗出」 標準，民進黨立委為此占據立法院議場主席台5天4夜的「壯舉」 猶歷歷在目。在10月TIFA再次召開之際， 已視明年執政為囊中之物、敢於向外賓說「我們確信明年會執政」 的蔡英文，多次表示要加入TPP，如果她要做好台美經貿關係， 讓美國支持台灣加入TPP，蔡英文與民進黨，大概不得不「 與昨日之我作戰」、改支持美牛豬開放了吧？此時， 蔡英文是否該明白交代其對美牛豬開放的政策態度？
蔡英文則說執政後經濟會更開放。 但我們回顧過去民進黨對馬政府財經政策的批判、反對， 實在看不出民進黨有多少開放的DNA。兩岸服貿協議在「 傾中賣台」的大帽子下，民進黨反對到底， 連帶兩岸貨貿亦延誤至今；自由經濟示範區的「試點開放」， 也被民進黨提出「八大批評」杯葛到底而胎死腹中； 而且民進黨最強調開放不能傷害弱勢中小企業。
經濟對外開放原本不就是要讓外來的刺激與競爭， 激發國內產業升級、淘汰不合適與缺乏競爭力的產業與企業嗎？ 蔡英文或許應更明白的交代，讓國人了解， 她的開放是如何個開放法？ 更該明白表示她是否支持兩岸貨貿與服貿？如果繼續反對服貿， 現在正在進行的兩岸「金銀會」如涉及彼此的開放，是否也要反呢？
那麼也該告訴民眾與企業界，她捨與大陸簽訂的貨貿、服貿， 就真有辦法與美、歐等重量級經濟體簽下FTA嗎？ 台灣經濟與出口要如何能繞過近在咫尺的全球第二大經濟體， 而不受影響呢？
強調分配的公平與社會正義；而台灣長期對股、 房兩市未課資本利得稅，一直被認為是造成社會不公、 惡化所得差距的原因。對近來成為立法院與社會焦點的證所稅議題， 民進黨有意無意之間的「放水」，支持國民黨「明為修改， 實為廢除」證所稅的作法，或是改以提出「林全版」的證所稅因應， 但事實上林全版仍只是一個證交稅版本， 其作法與涵意絕非稅法原理上的證所稅。這合乎蔡英文強調的「 公平正義」嗎？
蔡英文能不惜「與昨日之我作戰」，我們支持、也樂觀其成。 但想想當初在野黨偏離專業、民粹式的反對，哎！ 只可惜又讓台灣浪費了幾年寶貴的時間。