Taiwan ‘enjoys’ low profile
Alibaba Group has announced that it will establish a non-profit venture fund of NT$10 billion (US$318.1 million) to support young entrepreneurs in Taiwan, CEO Jack Ma (馬雲) said in a speech titled “From Dream to Entrepreneurship” at National Taiwan University in Taipei on March 3.
What an irony. Taiwanese consortia, such as Foxconn and HTC, invested in China. Now, China’s consortia will return with venture funds for young Taiwanese.
Yes, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has pushed hard to lock Taiwan into China’s grasp since he took power. Now China is Taiwan’s biggest trade partner. After sucking out Taiwanese capital, China is playing a new strategy to buy out innovation from our young generation. Hopefully, Jack Ma is not a pawn of the united front forays Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) recently mentioned at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
On Feb. 27, US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman reflected on US engagement in Northeast Asia.
When asked by CtiTV reporter John Zang “to give an assessment of the current status of US-Taiwan relations,” she replied: “It is a good sign [that Taiwan is not talked about as much as it once was]. It means that Taiwan is stable, is prosperous, has a strong relationship with mainland China, that the concept of one China and the Three Communiques has become a standard, that economic integration between Taiwan and mainland China is quite so — it is the status quo.”
When asked about the US-Taiwan relationship, Sherman applied it to “one China” and the three communiques, but omitted the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA). Should Taiwan enjoy its low profile to be part of the Chinese economic network? No, Taiwan is secured by the TRA, a US law passed by the US Congress.
Alibaba’s NT$10 billion fund is certainly attractive to underpaid Taiwanese college graduates looking for a job. However, should we lock ourselves completely into China? Due to its geographic proximity to China, Taiwan’s trading policy is a controversial issue. Should Taiwan be part of the Chinese network and then enter the international market, or should Taiwan consider China part of the international market?
According to a Feb. 12 US Department of State report, the US has 224 trading partners in the world. Taiwan is the 10th-largest of those and the US is Taiwan’s largest foreign investor. Last year, total Taiwan-US merchandise trade was worth US$67.4 billion, while the US’ second-largest trading partner, China, was worth US$590.7 billion. China is 265 times bigger than Taiwan in territorial area and 58 times bigger in population, but only nine times bigger in trade. Taiwan’s trade performance is impressive.
US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said: “Taiwan must be in global trade deals: How can that happen?” at the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce San Francisco Bay Area’s annual banquet on Feb. 21.
Hammond-Chambers said Taiwan’s main strength is the economy. Without a strong economy, Taiwan will be weak and ignored. The US, Australia, Japan and other Pacific Rim countries should help Taiwan maintain strong economic strength and global competitiveness. Since Taiwan is the US’ 10th-largest trading partner, the US should continue to promote Taiwan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. Is it better off economically today? Will Taiwan be better off locking its economy onto China’s?
Sherman said: “In terms of Taiwan politics, I’m going to leave that to the people of Taiwan.” Yes, we Taiwanese need to fight for our own future if we do not want to continue to be humiliated.
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