Sat, Jul 15, 2017 - Page 8 News List

Ko should scrap twin-city forum

By Huang Tien-lin 黃天麟

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) was elected with more than 830,000 votes in November 2014 after running as an independent candidate.

Four months later, he proposed the “2015 new viewpoint” during an interview with Chinese media, saying that Taiwanese must respect signed agreements and the history of interactions between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, while seeking mutual recognition, understanding, respect and cooperation based on the existing political foundation for a “better shared future.”

As Ko promised to respect signed cross-strait agreements, he immediately won Chinese authorities’ praise. As a result, the Taipei-Shanghai City Forum took place on Aug. 17 that year.

Despite Ko’s compromise, the annual forum has not brought China’s goodwill over the past two years, as Beijing has been acting worse by oppressing Taiwan’s international space at the World Health Assembly and as evidenced by Panama switching its diplomatic recognition from Taipei.

At a critical moment such as this, the forum was held as planned on July 1. Ko not only participated pleasantly at the event, but he also proposed ideas such as the two sides being “one close family” and “a joint community with a shared destiny.”

Since his remarks were similar to political slogans used by Beijing to deceive Taiwanese, they were instantly praised by pan-blue camp media, which reported that Ko was able to see the “public’s wishes” on the one hand while criticizing the government on the other hand.

Why did Ko — who proclaims himself to be “deep-green” — insist on participating in the forum and why does he believe that it was the wish of the people he represents.

The reason is that Ko and many “old, blue men” have been obsessed with so-called “merchant economics” over the past decade or so, as they believe that cross-strait exchanges are beneficial to both parties, from a businessperson’s perspective.

The damage caused by the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) to Taiwan’s economy during former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) terms is self-evident: Economic growth turned negative during the period and wages regressed to a level last seen 16 years ago.

For the sake of the forum, Ko has promised to respect signed agreements, including the controversial cross-strait service in trade agreement, while denying the legitimacy of the Sunflower movement. This clearly shows his obsession with merchant economics.

The damage done to the nation’s economy by merchant economics is too widespread to quantify.

From the Asia-Pacific Regional Operations Center in the 1990s and the Economic Development Advisory Conference’s conclusion of “active opening” in 2001 to popular theories, such as ordering in Taiwan and manufacturing in China; a “smile curve”; and the three B’s — bridge, brand, brain — in the 2000s were all based on the thinking of businesspeople.

Lost in the huge Chinese market, they departed from the true meaning of national economy, delayed the nation’s economic transformation and widened the income gap.

Despite its slogan of being “mutually beneficial and reciprocal,” the forum is mixed with the strong political factors of Beijing’s “united front” work. The forum does not benefit Taipei completely and has more negative effects than positive.

For instance, Taipei might have downgraded itself to an outpost for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, while losing its dignity, the public’s loyalty to the nation and the money and talent drawn to Shanghai.

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