Sun, Dec 13, 2015 - Page 8 News List

Ma and Chu’s Taiwanese auction

By Huang Tien-lin 黃天麟

Several days ago, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Eric Chu (朱立倫) issued a pledge during an event in New Taipei City’s Sindian District (新店), saying that if elected, he would do all he could to promote tourism, adding that it is possible that the number of tourists visiting Taiwan could reach 20 million or 30 million per year.

This is the first economic plan that he has presented the public with since he was nominated as presidential candidate. Chu’s tourism plan made people realize that the “One Taiwan” he has been talking about in his promotional materials means that he is following in the footsteps of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) by turning Taiwan into a resort island for Chinese tourists.

Japan is also promoting tourism and its goal is to welcome 20 million visitors by the time Tokyo hosts the Olympic Games in 2020. Japan covers an area of 377,000km2, which is 10 times the size of Taiwan, and it offers stunning scenery to tourists.

Based on Chu’s standards, Japan should be aiming for 200 million visitors by 2020, but everyone can see how preposterous that sounds. Even Thailand — whose economy is built on tourism and has an area 13 times the size of Taiwan, with a population of 67 million — receives 26 million tourists per year.

The Japanese and Thai prime ministers know that the tourism industry only makes up a part of their GDP and that there are many other important industrial sectors in need of talented people and resources. During the Democratic Progressive Party’s term in government, Taiwan received about 2 million tourists per year, which is about the same level as the 20 million that Japan aims for in 2020. That results in a high quality travel experience.

However, after the Ma administration started bringing in Chinese tourists, the quality of the experience at Sun Moon Lake, Taroko Gorge and other locations has deteriorated, and the tourism industry has become a low-margin, low-quality industry.

Ma and Chu’s “sea of tourists” tactic is a step in Ma’s strategy to bring about eventual unification with China. The goal is to revamp the economic structures Taiwan developed as leader of the four Asian tigers and turn it into a marginalized island to serve the pleasures of the Chinese elite. They have done this by signing the eventual colonization and unification framework agreement — also known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) — and the service trade agreement to suppress economic growth. It seems, this year, it would be difficult to achieve an economic growth of 1 percent, but this is in line with Ma’s desire to bring about the complete restoration of Zhonghua minzu (中華民族) — the Chinese nation.

Ma and Chu have recently joined hands in promoting the work they feel remains unfinished, and it is of the utmost importance that all Taiwanese are aware of this. Although they have been in power for eight years, and although the ECFA framework has allowed them to move Taiwan’s main productive industries to China, the high-tech semiconductor and IC design industries that remain in Taiwan as a result of the “no haste, be patient” policy are still doing well and have become important economic pillars.

Last year, Beijing set up a semiconductor fund to the tune of 120 billion yuan (US$18.58 billion) and it is using state capital to acquire overseas semiconductor companies. It is now targeting Taiwan.

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