China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
December 24, 2015
Executive Summary: Taiwan's economy is unquestionably in dire straits. It faces countless risks and uncertainties. Some think that given Taiwan's abundant capital and industrial base, it will always get by. That is not necessarily true. The two major parties differ on political direction and economic policy. Internal conflict prevents Taiwan from moving forward. At this critical moment, just before the election, we hope the candidates will think clearly and speak plainly, letting us know their policies, and which way they intend to lead the nation. In particular, the must tell us how they intend to resolve economic difficulties generated by political factors. Once the candidates have explained what they intend to do, and voters have cast their ballots, we hope the two major parties will be good losers and conduct themselves in a manner befitting the loyal opposition for the next four years.
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Taiwan's economy is unquestionably in dire straits. It faces countless risks and uncertainties. Some think that given Taiwan's abundant capital and industrial base, it will always get by. That is not necessarily true. The two major parties differ on political direction and economic policy. Internal conflict prevents Taiwan from moving forward. At this critical moment, just before the election, we hope the candidates will think clearly and speak plainly, letting us know their policies, and which way they intend to lead the nation. In particular, the must tell us how they intend to resolve economic difficulties generated by political factors. Once the candidates have explained what they intend to do, and voters have cast their ballots, we hope the two major parties will be good losers and conduct themselves in a manner befitting the loyal opposition for the next four years.
Over the past six decades, Taiwan has gone from a closed command economy, to an open free economy. Foreign rating agencies consider Taiwan's open and vibrant economy among the best in the world. But the financial and economic policies that have guided Taiwan over the past decades have been stealthily undermined. Last year the Sunflower Student movement obstructed passage of the STA and the FEPZ. This year it opposes membership in regional trade organizations and cross-Strait investment. Many people on Taiwan have undergone a complete change in mindset, towards feudalism and against freedom.
We hope the two major party candidates will think clearly. Will Taiwan continue to advance toward freedom and openness? Or will it revert to feudalism and dictatorship? The candidates must explain their policies. They cannot say on the one hand that they wish to join the US-led TPP, and on the other hand demand protectionism for domestic agriculture and vulnerable industries. They cannot oppose the FEPZ merely because they oppose unconditional opening. Taiwan-US trade imbalances once forced Taiwan to open its markets. Taiwan eventually joined the World Trade Organization. Cross-Strait trade has continued for nearly a decade. With so many historical precedents, candidates must make clear where they stand.
Taiwan faces trade marginalization. KMT candidate Eric Chu and DPP candidate Tsai Ing-wen both call for joining the TPP. But neither have explained how they intend to achieve this goal. The US is the sponsor of the TPP. It has made clear that Taiwan must allow US pork imports before it approves Taiwan's membership. Do Chu and Tsai advocate allowing US pork imports? Actually, even with US support, Taiwan still needs the support of 11 other TPP Member States. Therefore Tsai Ing-wen must tell everyone how Taiwan can possibly "bypass” Mainland China, yet win support from these countries?
Cross-Strait trade and investment relations, the red supply chain, and the red capital red tide loom large. They are likely to rewrite the future of cross-Strait industry. Where do Chu and Tsai stand on actual cases? These include the opening of IC design, domestic IC packaging and testing, and allowing UNIS to purchase shares of companies on Taiwan. Do they have reservations? Or do they oppose these policies outright? Where precisely do they stand? Where do they draw the line?
In the past, Taiwan's flat panel industry enjoyed a clear advantage over the Mainland's. The Mainland welcomed Taiwan panel maker investments. But the government stopped such investments dead. The result was the swift rise of Mainland panel manufacturers. South Korean companies also built factories on the Mainland. Mainland panel makers will probably surpass Taiwan panel makers within two years. Taiwan IC designers may have the skills. But they lack the capital for plant expansion. The brain drain continues unabated. Given the flat panel industry history, shouldn't Chu and Tsai tell us where they stand? How do they propose to shut out Mainland investment in IC packaging and testing, reject open IC design, yet avoid the mistakes made with the flat panel industry?
The domestic investment environment is deteriorating. The causes are varied. Marginalization is leading to capital flight. The most serious domestic problem is power shortages. Chu and Tsai both promise that there will be no shortages. But neither has laid out a clear plan.
Both Chu and Tsai support a non-nuclear homeland. Tsai wants to totally eliminate nuclear power and substitute renewable energy alternatives. But the public has opposed increased renewable energy for decades. Many projects have run up against local protests. Just how feasible are Tsai Ing-wen's renewable energy targets? Tsai has promised "absolutely no power shortages". She advocates the construction of thermal power plants. But how does that square with her carbon reduction goals? More and more counties and municipalities oppose the burning of bituminous coal. If Tsai Ing-wen is proposing to use natural gas for power generation, how can she promise "prices will not rise"? Tsai advocates so many contradictory goals. She must think clearly and speak plainly.
Economic policy and industrial development require professionalism. But in recent years government fiscal policy and decision-making is no longer determined by professionals and is instead being determined by mobs. It is even being determined by pressure groups. What's worse, in the wake of last year's anti-STA movement, The Economist predicted that “In the future Taiwan's policies will be decided on the street". Last week Central Bank President Perng Huai-nan's Supervisory Board proposed an economic revitalization plan to "promote public and private sector governance reform". Clearly he had this in mind.
Blue vs. green battles damage the economy even more than populism. The DPP must not foolishly assume that "As long as the KMT falls, Taiwan will be fine". It must aggressively attempt to revive the economy. The KMT must not seek revenge by maliciously obstructing everything the DPP proposes. Eric Chu faces a KMT crisis unprecedented in 60 years. He must acknowledge reality, make a last stand, and clear the way for a future Kuomintang recovery. He must participate in the debate, not merely to win votes, but to show that the KMT has transcended narrow party interests, that it is determined to defend the nation and protect the people. Only then can he lay a foundation for a KMT rebirth. Tsai Ing-wen must demonstrate a respect for professionalism. She must rethink fiscal policy, improve governing ability, and not allow Taiwan to formulate policy in the streets.
一些人總認為，以台灣豐沛的資金與產業基底，應該可以順利突圍。 很遺憾，答案可能是「未必」。 兩大黨對經濟的方向與政策莫衷一是，內部衝突抵消了前進的力量。 選前關鍵時刻，我們希望候選人想清楚，講明白未來的方向與政策， 尤其對造成經濟困境的政治因素要如何解決？等候選人說清楚了、 選民做出選擇了，我們更希望兩大黨「願選服輸」，做4年忠誠的反 對黨。
大致是一部從管制封閉走向自由開放的歷史。在國外評比機構眼中， 台灣開放又充滿活力的經濟自由度在全球名列前茅。但是， 此一主導台灣數十年的財經政策主軸似乎已悄然翻轉， 從去年的反服貿學運到反自由經濟示範區， 再到今日反對加入區域組織的開放、反對兩岸投資的再開放等， 台灣社會在心態與思潮上，早已反轉走向封閉、反自由開放之路。
到底是繼續走向自由開放、還是管制封閉？而且， 候選人該說清楚全套政策，而非一方面說要爭取加入美國主導的TP P，一方面又說要保護國內農業與弱勢產業，不能隨便開放， 所以反對自經區。台灣從早年台美貿易失衡而被迫開放市場，到加入 WTO（世界貿易組織）及近十年兩岸的開放， 其實有不少歷史案例可供參考，候選人該可以談得更明白。
加入TPP」。但朱、蔡都從未告訴大家，要如何達成此目標？主導 TPP的美國已明白地說，開放美豬進口是美國支持台灣加入TPP 的前提，那麼朱、蔡的主張呢？即使美國支持，台灣仍需要其他11 個TPP會員國的支持才能加入，那蔡英文應告訴大家， 台灣有無可能、及要如何「繞過中國」得到其他國家的支持？
很可能改寫未來兩岸產業態勢，朱、蔡對近日幾個實際案例， 包括是否開放IC設計、是否開放紫光入股國內封測企業， 都持保留甚至反對態度。那麼，政策的界線與分寸到底在哪裡？
對岸一直歡迎台灣面板廠去投資，當年政府卡住廠商， 結果是大陸本土廠商快速崛起，韓國廠商亦赴大陸設廠， 台灣面板廠商預估在兩年內就要被大陸超越。IC設計台灣廠商雖有 技術，但無資金擴廠發展，人才還不斷流失， 眼看即將步上面板產業前塵，朱、蔡是不是應該更實際說清楚， 有何妙方拒絕中資入股封測、拒絕開放IC設計後， 可以避免重蹈面板的覆轍？
除了邊緣化導致的投資出走外， 內部問題最嚴重且明確者在缺電風險，朱、蔡都保證不缺電， 卻未提出有執行可能的計畫。
以再生能源增加替代。不過，以過去數十年再生能源增加的速度， 更有部分碰到地方抗爭， 蔡英文提高再生能源的時程目標是否有可行性？而蔡英文承諾「 絕對不缺電」的另一個前提是：興建中的火力電廠依計畫執行， 是否與減碳目標衝突？更與地方縣市「反生煤」立場不同？ 如果都以天然氣發電，蔡英文又該如何實現其「電價不漲」的保證？ 蔡要如何調節這麼多衝突矛盾的目標，請想清楚、說明白。
但近年政府財經政策與相關決策日益偏離專業、走向民粹， 甚至完全被社會運動左右，更糟糕的是，如去年反服貿運動後《 經濟學人》雜誌所預言者，「台灣未來將在街頭決定政策」。 央行總裁彭淮南上周在理監事會提出的振興經濟方案，提出「 推動公私部門治理改革」建議，顯然意有所指。
台灣就會好」，要有積極作為重振經濟，國民黨也不能心存報復， 事事反對、惡意杯葛。朱立倫面對國民黨60年前所未見危局， 更應認清現實，以「背水一戰」的決心，想清楚國民黨的復興之路， 參加辯論不但要盡量爭取選票，更要展現超脫一黨之私的愛國家、 護人民之心，才能為國民黨再起奠基。 蔡英文則展現重建財經政策專業、提升政府治理能力的決心與能力， 不會讓台灣「在街頭決定政策」。