Fri, Jan 09, 2009 - Page 8 News List

Closer ties bring significant risks

By Gerrit Van Der wees

This was particularly evident in the events surrounding the visit of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in early November.

Instead of putting all its eggs in the China basket, Taiwan should diversify its risks, shield itself as much as possible from the Chinese economic meltdown and strengthen its links with the US and Europe in particular, so as to have an advantageous starting position in important high-tech niches once the economy in the West perks up again.

Taiwan’s economy still has significant strengths because of an innovative entrepreneurial class and a solid high-tech sector, especially in information technology and — thanks to the stimulus provided by the previous government — a good head-start in biotechnology and nanotechnology.

These strengths should be leveraged in closer ties with similar industries in the US and Europe.

In the meantime, the Ma administration needs to take steps to reverse the erosion of democracy, human rights and press freedom; to adhere to scrupulous neutrality of the judicial system; and to regain international respect for its advances in the areas of democracy and freedom. Only then will Taiwan’s long-term viability as a free and democratic nation be ensured.

Gerrit van der Wees is editor of Taiwan Communique, a publication based in Washington.

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