Wed, Nov 20, 2013 - Page 8

Ma triggers Gambia cutoff

In a letter to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Gambian President Yahya Jammeh politely explained the reasons for his abrupt decision to immediately terminate diplomatic ties with Taiwan (“Gambia terminates ties with Taiwan,” Nov. 16, page 1).

Jammeh praised the good current relations between Taiwan and China and indicated that Taiwan does not need the Gambia any more. His decision was made for the “strategic” interest and the “neutral” position of the Gambia.

In a public speech last month, Ma officially announced that relations between Taiwan and China are not “international.”

Some people have started to think that the Republic of China is a local government of the People’s Republic of China. The relations between the two with similar names are expected to be good. A local government does not need diplomacy or to join the UN.

Understandably, the Gambia does not want to have diplomatic relations with a local government, which might downgrade its status or offend China’s central government.

In a related incident, many people in Taiwan were surprised that Taipei was listed by Reuters as the sixth-ranked city in China in terms of divorce rates — after Beijing and Shanghai, but in front of Hong Kong. Apparently, Reuters is confused by the term “Chinese Taipei.”

Charles Hong

Columbus, Ohio

Economy’s downward spiral

A spiral has its big end up and its thin end down, as does Taiwan’s economy — especially domestic consumption. The situation in restaurants around the Greater Taipei area is at its worst for the past 12 years. Since April last year, when electricity rates and gasoline prices began to rise, a steady downward spiral has begun.

It began slowly. Despite the drop in sales, businesses still managed somehow. Since then, the truth has become known. On weekdays, there is nearly no business for New Taipei City (新北市) restaurants — especially on the north coast. On weekends, many customers try to save money by sharing meals and drinks, or even by not ordering drinks. This can mean death for many restaurants because imported meat and beer leave little room to lower prices. Only chain stores can prosper.

If the government focuses only on China, it will not find ways to increase domestic consumption and restore consumer confidence.

It is interesting to read that “someone important” has heard the voices of the people.

However, it seems that either the people’s voices were not understood or the important person did not think what they said was important, because nothing is improving; it gets worse day by day.

How many more restaurants must close? How much more quality of life can be lost? The answer is: not much. The nation is already at the end of the spiral — the lowest, narrow end.

Andreas Forster

New Taipei City