The election of Park Geun-hye as South Korea’s next president gives Taiwan a chance to advance bilateral relations as well as more leeway to deploy its global economic engagement strategies, academics said at a forum in Taipei yesterday.
Park deserved to be called a “Taiwan hand,” former representative to South Korea Lee Chung-ru (李宗儒) said.
She has been to Taiwan several times, understands Chinese, and is still influenced by the high-profile friendship between the two countries back in 1960s and 1970s when her father was in power, Lee said.
“We don’t take it for granted that Park’s personal connection to Taiwan will shape South Korea’s foreign policy in Taiwan’s favor, but we can expect that it will have a positive impact on bilateral relations,” Lee told a forum hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Chengchi University’s Institute of International Relations.
Another former representative to South Korea, Chen Yeong-cho (陳永綽), told the forum that he expected Park to display flexibility and goodwill in trying to work with Taiwan, rather than rigidly sticking to the “one China” policy normally embraced by South Korea.
Seoul, under Park’s leadership, is likely to remain mum on issues relating to Taiwan’s interests in the international arena, because South Korea runs a huge trade surplus against China, but “she is always willing to extend a helping hand whenever we raise needs,” Chen said.
Tsai Zheng-jia (蔡增家), a research fellow at the institute, said that Park might slow down the pace of free-trade talks because she cares more about trade liberalization effects on the development of small and medium-sized enterprises than South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has.
Talks on a free-trade agreement involving South Korea, Japan and China will not be high on Park’s agenda after she is inaugurated in February, Tsai said.
“She would rather focus on issues related to big family conglomerates, the wealth gap and social injustices instead,” he said.
China, Japan and South Korea, have announced that they will launch negotiations on a three-nation free-trade zone. The first round of talks is scheduled for next month.
That would give Taiwan leeway to step up its economic engagement with China under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement and with other trading partners, Tsai said.
Chang Shao-wen (張少文), an associate professor at Shih Hsin University, said that Park is expected to soften a hardline policy that has been adopted by her predecessors in the past 10 years during which tension in Korean Peninsula remain high.
If Park’s policy toward Pyongyang would improve the North-South relations, the role of China in the North Korean problem will evolve in a way that would help Taiwan boost its relations with Seoul, Chang said.
NINE NEW CASES: The CECC said two locally transmitted cases of COVID-19, and seven imported ones – five women and two men – brought the nation’s total to 348 People who refuse to wear a mask on public transportation after being asked to do so would face a NT$3,000 to NT$15,000 fine, effective immediately, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday after announcing nine additional COVID-19 cases. In a move to curtail the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications on Tuesday announced that people must wear masks on trains and intercity buses, while Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, on Tuesday said that people should wear them when they cannot maintain a social distance of 1.5m indoors. Chen yesterday
TRILLION PROPOSED: The premier said the goal was to keep ‘businesses solvent, the unemployment rate down, transportation and logistics going, and cash flowing’ The Executive Yuan yesterday announced an expanded economic stimulus package totaling NT$1.05 trillion (US$34.64 billion), including NT$81.6 billion in subsidies for employers to prevent a spike in unemployment. The increased budget comprises a special budget of NT$210 billion, up from the NT$60 billion already passed by the Legislative Yuan; NT$140 billion — up from NT$40 billion — to be appropriated from the general budget; and NT$700 billion in loans to industries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics Minister Chu Tzer-ming (朱澤民) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei. The NT$150 billion increase in the
TARGETED TEXTS: The center’s head said that visitor numbers at scenic spots were greater than expected and people did not do a very good job of social distancing The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday sent two warning text messages to urge people to practice social distancing, especially by avoiding crowded scenic areas. The two messages were sent at 11:55am on the third day of the four-day Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, reminding people about social distancing and hand hygiene to help prevent COVID-19 infection. “When visiting crowded scenic spots during the Tomb Sweeping Day weekend, please keep a social distance of at least 1.5m indoors and 1m outdoors, wear a mask and wash your hands frequently. Please wear a mask and seek immediate medical attention if you are feeling ill
The US National Security Council yesterday thanked Taiwan for its support amid the COVID-19 pandemic following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement that Taiwan would donate 10 million masks to hard-hit countries. The donation includes 2 million masks to the US on top of the weekly 100,000 announced previously; 7 million to Europe; and 1 million to diplomatic allies, on top of 1 million Taiwan procured for allies from their neighboring countries, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. After European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen expressed appreciation for the donations, the US body yesterday wrote its thanks on Twitter. “We