President Chen Shui-bian (
Asking the public to refrain from taking "election talk" too seriously, Chen said that Hsieh would not have made such remarks had Hsieh still been the premier or competing in the party's presidential primary.
"There won't be any problem if we look at his remarks from the perspective of election language and strategy," he said. "We understand, tolerate and respect such remarks made by the candidates."
Chen made the remarks in response to media inquiries about Hsieh's comments on cross-strait economic policy on Monday. Hsieh criticized the administration for "valuing its own old broomstick" and said that the country would soon lose its competitive edge if the government kept forbidding industries from going to China.
"How do you expect people to love Taiwan if Taiwan loses its competitiveness?" Hsieh was quoted as saying in yesterday's editions of the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times' sister paper) and the United Daily News.
When approached by reporters in Taichung yesterday, Hsieh said that it was but natural that his cross-strait economic policy differed from that of the administration.
"As I am running for president, my campaign platform delineates what I plan to do when I am elected -- not what I want to do now," he said. "The policy proposal is the vision I have drawn for the future and makes up for the deficiencies in current government policy."
Hsieh said he did not see any problem putting his platform into practice if elected.
He said his remarks on Monday echoed the view of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀), who is in favor of easing restrictions on technology exports to China.
Hsieh said he did not literally mean that "Taiwan will end up with nothing," but rather that the nation would lose its competitive edge if the government did not relax regulations in time.
"We cannot abandon the Chinese market, but it is not right to duplicate Taiwan's success story in China," he said. "We should seek to duplicate the success stories of other advanced countries in Taiwan by keeping our research and development centers here."
Hsieh said that the nation could ease regulations on technology exports to China and use US standards as a guideline.
With Taiwanese investment in China per month approximately NT$10 billion (US$312 million) higher than foreign investment in Taiwan, the nation would be emptied out if concrete measures were not implemented to lure back investment, he said.
Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) said he did not think Hsieh's platform contradicted Chen's cross-strait policy.
"President Chen was probably just expressing his concerns about the current situation. If we are able to relax the regulations now, [Hsieh] would not have to include it in his campaign platform," Chang said, adding that Hsieh was expressing his views on the future.
Meanwhile, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (
"As a former premier, Hsieh was responsible for government policies. I am not sure whether he can do it in the future," Ma said.