Tue, Sep 05, 2006 - Page 1 News List

AmCham and TSU spar on China ties

CLASHING VIEWS The TSU was up in arms over an editorial in the US business group's magazine, which said cross-strait policy had been hijacked by extremists

By Jackie Linand Jewel Huang  /  STAFF REPORTERS , WITH CNA

Taiwan Solidarity Union members Huang Shih-cho, left, Liao Pen-yen, center, and Ho Min-hao respond yesterday at a press conference in Taipei to AmCham's criticisms of the party for its economic policy.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUN-FONG, TAIPEI TIMES

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) struck a nerve with the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) because of an editorial in the latest edition of its monthly magazine, in which the chamber used unusually harsh language to criticize the government's cross-strait policies.

The editorial in the August issue of Taiwan Business Topics, titled "Conferences don't lead," accused the ruling party of succumbing to the TSU and sidelining important cross-strait issues, which it said would only "weaken Taiwan's competitiveness."

The editorial also expressed AmCham's disappointment at the government's failure to reach a consensus during the two-day Conference on Sustaining Taiwan's Economic Development in July.

"Politics got in the way when the tiny TSU held the meeting agenda hostage to the party's ideological bias against closer economic ties with China," the editorial read.

It went on to say that the TSU, as a pan-green ally, "commands more influence with the government than the number of its supporters warrants, and the party's `spiritual leader,' former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), still has a following because of his past contributions to building Taiwan's democracy."

In September 1996, then-president Lee proposed a "no haste, be patient" policy as a guideline for Taiwanese investments in China, citing national security.

"But on purely economic grounds, Lee and the TSU are off base," AmCham said.

Without the ability to tap fully into the regional and global business activity that flows through China, Taiwan will be just another medium-sized market of limited interest to international corporations, the editorial read.

"By deferring to the TSU and failing to adopt further opening to China through expanded industrial investment and the opening of banking connections, the government is weakening, not safeguarding, Taiwan's competitiveness," it concluded.

In response, the TSU lashed out at AmCham, saying the organization's interests were not the same as Taiwan's.

"If the American Chamber of Commerce has illusions about the Chinese market and thinks that Taiwan's investment in China is not enough, it can go to the market by itself and does not need to drag Taiwan along into its nightmare," TSU legislative caucus whip Liao Pen-yen (廖本煙) said at a press conference held with other TSU legislators yesterday.

Liao said that the interests of AmCham were not necessarily those of Taiwan, adding that if the US really cares about Taiwan, it would sign a free trade agreement (FTA) and assist Taiwan in joining the UN.

Other TSU officials said it was their party's duty to monitor the government and to raise concerns about the nation's excessive investment in China, because these issues concern Taiwan's sovereignty and future development.

TSU Legislator David Huang (黃適卓) said that AmChan should be more concerned with Taiwan's economy becoming over-reliant on China, which he said had caused high unemployment and a widening gap between the rich and the poor.

"The American Chamber of Commerce should not continue guiding the Taiwanese govern-ment's policy and force it to tilt to China. It should not meddle in Taiwan's domestic affairs," Huang said.

"China has 800 missiles targeted at Taiwan and the situation is dangerous for us. We have to play it safe in terms of relaxing restrictions on investment in China," Huang added.

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