Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 8 News List


Name games won’t help

The proposed economic agreement with China has turned into an acronym game (“Ma seeks to settle disputes over economic agreement,” Feb. 28, page 1). President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is trying to settle the controversy by changing the name “comprehensive economic cooperation agreement” (CECA) to “economic cooperation framework agreement” (ECFA).

It is risky to name an agreement without knowing its content. A bottle of “methanol” should not be labeled “ethanol” even if both are alcohols.

The word “framework” is even worse than the word “comprehensive.” The former will remind people of the phrase “one China framework.”

Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) has demanded the “one China framework” be the basis for an economic agreement.

Yet the Ma administration has denied this and reiterates that the agreement would have nothing to do with sovereignty.

The majority of Taiwanese have lost confidence in Ma. During the presidential election, Ma pledged not to negotiate with China unless it dismantled the 1,300 missiles it has deployed across the Taiwan Strait. But since he took office, China has increased the number of missiles aimed at Taiwan to 1,500.

“ECFA” is supposedly better than “CECA” because the former sounds like “the country will get rich” and the latter sounds like “washing your feet” in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese).

But you could also say ECFA sounds like a method for dying (literally “will die method”) and CECA sounds like “four-legged,” referring to beasts.

But nobody will know what the deal is about until details are made public.

A more effective way to settle the controversy over the economic agreement would be for the Ma administration to ask Hu to take back his remarks about the “one China framework.”

This might help, but would not be fully convincing, since China’s promises to Hong Kong have been broken.


Columbus, Ohio

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