Sat, Jul 26, 2003 - Page 10 News List

Focus on the economy, Chiang urges

`HARD-WORKING' CHIANG At a press conference held to celebrate the release of his new book, the former economics minister said it was time to stop the political games

By Joyce Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vice Legislative Speaker Chiang Ping-kun (江丙坤) yesterday expressed a pessimistic view on the nation's future economic growth, saying the DPP administration's political manipulation has dampened the private sector's investment confidence.

"The economy may not improve too strongly in the next six months, as private investment is failing to pick up," Chiang said yesterday at a press conference to launch a new book, entitled Hard-working Chiang Ping-kun's Taiwan Experience (拼命三郎 -- 江丙坤的台灣經驗), detailing his more than 40-years of experience as an economic official under the KMT government.

"Politics has an impact on economic confidence, and this can dampen the economy," Chiang said.

Using the rekindled Fourth Nuclear Power Plant (核四) controversy as an example, Chiang said that the government's fickleness regarding economic policy will shatter both local and foreign investors' confidence in making investments here.

Chiang also said that the Chen administration made little headway in easing cross-strait tensions and pushing forward trade exchanges with China, whose markets he said have become the nation's second largest export destination.

"Instability in cross-strait relations will keep investors away," he said.

Chiang urged the government to put politics on the back burner and focus on the nation's economic development by relaxing restrictions on cross-strait business exchanges.

Chiang also urged President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) to put aside political differences and resume cross-strait dialogue by acknowledging "the 1992 consensus" which stipulates that there is "one China, with each side having its own interpretation" (九二共識,一中各表).

He said that Chen recently toughened his stance by rejecting the "one China" principle in implementing the three links (三通) policy, which he said killed off hopes of the direct-link policy's possible implementation in the future.

Last week, Chen told the Asian Wall Street Journal that Taiwan doesn't want direct links if it requires yielding to China's demands including the "one China" principle.

In Taiwan-US trade relations, Chiang yesterday also urged the government to put more effort into resuming high-ranking official talks with the US following the superpower's decision to suspend high-level trade talks on unresolved trade issues with their Taiwanese counterparts.

Washington last week confirmed that it didn't want its high-ranking trade officials to lapse into "unproductive conversations" with Taiwan as the nation has made little improvement on protecting intellectual property rights (IPR).

Chiang yesterday said that the key to resuming dialogue with the US is to effectively crack down on IPR infringement, citing his own experience in 1993 when he was economic minister. At that time the US threatened to place Taiwan on its Special 301 priority watchlist of serious IPR violators, which could have led to US$1 billion in trade sanctions.

To celebrate the publication of Chiang's new book, many political and business heavyweights including former premier Lee Huan (李煥), Jeffrey Koo (辜濂松) and Kao Ching-yuan (高清愿) attended yesterday's ceremony.

They praised Chiang as the mastermind behind the KMT government's many important trade policies including the "go south" policy (南向政策), Taiwan's entry into the WTO and the Asia-Pacific logistic hub plan (亞太營運中心).

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