The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday introduced two new think tanks to enhance its policy initiatives while strengthening dialogue with China and the rest of the world.
The think tanks reflect calls for greater global engagement and consistent cross-strait policies, DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said at their launch.
“The DPP is entering a mature phase focusing on its ability to formulate policies rather than just garnering votes, being concerned about polls and reacting to current news,” said Tsai, who will head both organizations. “The think tanks will allow us to plan policies that are more detailed, comprehensive and far-reaching.”
The Economic and Social Affairs Research Center and the Security and Strategy Research Center are part of the party’s revamped New Frontier Foundation, created under former DPP chairman Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), and include retired government ministers and former representatives abroad.
This will give the think tanks a more “practical focus,” said foundation vice president Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), the former head of the DPP’s international affairs department.
Several top DPP politicians have expressed support for the centers, which were announced by Tsai in November to provide the party with more policy guidelines amid work on a 10-year “master plan” and the presidential campaign next year.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) called the move “a step in the right direction,” adding that it was important that the think tanks remain practical in the policies they propose.
Officials at the foundation said the Economic and Social Affairs Research Center would primarily tackle ideas on economic development and Taiwan’s growing income disparity. Policy will address industrial restructuring, land use and local growth initiatives.
“In Taiwan, people who put the same amount of effort into their work face tremendous disparities in what they obtain in return,” said Tsai, adding that growing unemployment among graduates would also be addressed.
The two most pressing problems facing Taiwan are lack of economic incentives for growth and an inability to ensure that wealth is spread equitably, she said. The economic and social center will aim to create a framework to resolve these issues.
“We will also create the infrastructure and means to ensure our policies are carried out,” Tsai said.
Officials said the Security and Strategy Research foundation would seek to broaden Taiwan’s international relationships as it forges more stable ties with China.
The center is expected to play a critical role in helping draft the DPP’s new cross-strait policies, the only part that remains unfinished in the 10-year “master plan.”
Reflecting her more moderate stance on cross-strait relations, Tsai said the DPP would prioritize “stabilizing the Asia-Pacific region” by maintaining peaceful relations with China.
“This is our responsibility to the international community,” she said.
Officials said the New Frontier Foundation has already held talks with Beijing and -Washington-based organizations.
Senior decision--makers have not ruled out further cross-strait exchanges in Taiwan or in China.
Former DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁), who will also head the foundation, was noncommittal on whether Tsai would lead discussions with China in the future, adding that such remarks could be “misinterpreted.” Tsai has said that the DPP’s China policies would be more “stable and consistent” than under former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).
Funding for the New Frontier Foundation — which had been largely dormant since its creation in 1999 — to establish the two think tanks came entirely out of Tsai’s campaign subsidies taken from her failed campaign for the New Taipei City (新北市) mayoralty in November.
The foundation, staffed primarily by former party officials, will cost about NT$24 million (US$812,000) in its first year, Wu said, and will likely rely on continued support from the DPP.
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