Tsai promises to reassess ECFA if elected president

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

Wed, Apr 06, 2011 - Page 1

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential hopeful Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said she would reassess the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) if elected next year, but did not say whether she would seek its nullification.

During a radio interview with the Broadcasting Corporation of China, Tsai said that if she were elected president, her administration would take a second look at the trade pact, which was signed with China in June last year, and she criticized the government for failing to refer the trade pact to the WTO, as it had promised to do.

“The pact must be made transparent internationally. We can’t have other trading partners questioning what sort of trade exchanges we have with China,” she said. “It will have an impact on our other trade relationships.”

The ECFA, a tariff-reducing pact, is a delicate issue for the DPP and especially for Tsai, who first opposed the pact, but later adopted a more noncommittal stance.

While acknowledging the influence of China — Taiwan’s largest trading partner — on the economy, she said cross-strait economic relations needed to be tempered by an understanding of its adverse impact on unemployment and wages.

“We have to deal with China. There is no question about it, but we can’t come too close. It offers many opportunities, but at the same time, many risks,” she said.

During the 45-minute interview, which dealt mostly with cross-strait relations, but also with the petrochemical and nuclear industries, Tsai said the country needed a “next--generation” leader who could strike a balance between Taiwan’s interests and China’s growing clout.

“We need to find Taiwan’s space and bargaining chips ... and I hope the [DPP] finds a person from the next generation,” she said in an apparent jab at her rival for the DPP nomination, 63-year-old former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌).

Meanwhile, in a separate interview published yesterday by the Central News Agency, Su said Taiwan’s administrative structure of five special municipalities and 12 counties was “unfair.”

If elected next year, he would redraw Taiwan’s administrative districts, he said.

“It will be administratively restructured outside of the current five special municipalities system. Districts would be drawn based on ‘living circles’ and resource sharing,” he said.

The current structure, he said, has led to an “unfair distribution of resources and opportunities.”

Looking at the education system, Su said that almost all the top test takers were students from the special municipalities that make up 59 percent of the nation’s population.

“This is because [education] resources are unfairly distributed. Students are at a disadvantage from the start. If it weren’t for a lack of education opportunities, I wouldn’t have come to Taipei from rural Pingtung County,” he said.

Su said Taipei City, New Taipei City (新北市) and Keelung were examples of a living circle. Taoyuan, Hsinchu and -Miaoli counties, Greater Taichung, Changhua and Nantou counties, as well as Greater Kaohsiung and Pingtung County were some other examples, he said.