Tue, Jan 23, 2001 - Page 8 News List

Promoting the Taiwan experience a useful tool

By Ker Chien-ming

On Jan. 18, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) complained about the exodus of Taiwanese companies to China, saying that "blindly following the `mainland fever' without knowing the risks is not something a wise man does."

Lu's words clearly show that since the DPP took office, the conflicts between the ruling party's two different lines -- the "boldly go west" (大膽西進) and the "no haste, be patient" (戒急用忍) policies -- have created severe social contradictions as the international economic situation has changed rapidly.

A country's leaders would be unwise, however, to ignore pragmatic perspectives that might help ease social conflicts and instead simply take sides in order to help safeguard the legitimacy of their power.

At the end of the 20th century, for the first time, Taiwan stepped onto the world stage because of the outstanding performance of its high-tech industry. Mean-while, the Chinese government has vowed to build 50 industrial parks on the mainland.

In response to this competition coming from China as the Cold War ended, Taiwan's high-tech industry had no choice but to expand its investments overseas in China, Singapore and even Eastern Europe.

It is an iron rule of history that capitalists go where the profit is. Following the trend, many local enterprises are now developing frameworks centered around "global logistics centers" and Taiwan is acquiring the status of a developed country. As Taiwanese companies actively expand their markets worldwide, we, as Taiwanese ourselves, should be very proud of their achievements.

While Taiwan's businesses are moving out, however, the Taiwanese people seem to be terrified that the relocation of industry will cause economic problems which will increase the unemployment rate on the island.

These fears, as well as the political conflicts of the past few months, have triggered uncertainty about the future of Taiwan. This is also the main reason why the DPP government is now faced with the dilemma of whether or not to loosen its "no haste, be patient" policy.

In fact, both the "boldly go west" policy first proposed by former DPP chairman Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) a few years ago and the recent speech given by President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) in which he said that overseas investment by industry amounted to an extension of national strength, are based on the same logic.

According to the logic of extending Taiwan's national strength, in addition to promoting its successful experience of economic development, Taiwan should also promote its experience of social and cultural development in order to influence the Chinese economic circle (華人經濟圈), which is currently repeating the "Taiwan experience."

To achieve the goal to "let Taiwan embrace the world; let the world embrace Taiwan (讓台灣走出去, 讓世界走進來)," I believe now is the time for the people of Taiwan to reflect on the "Taiwan experience" of the past 50 years. Meanwhile, we must broaden our vision to include the future development of the Chinese economic circle, or even the whole world, by actively promoting Taiwan's experience in industrial development as well as its successful social and cultural development.

By doing this, Taiwan can also lay a foundation for promoting the "knowledge-based economy" in order to upgrade its own local industry. This is perhaps a new way that is worth studying for Taiwan as it struggles to find its way out of the difficulties it faces today.

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