Economy should be like Noah’s Ark: Lee Teng-hui

TWO PILLARS::Lee stressed economic independence and technologically driven growth, and criticized the outsourcing of the nation’s manufacturing to China

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Mon, May 28, 2012 - Page 1

Taiwan’s economy should be built to resemble a vessel that is safe and durable like Noah’s Ark, rather than a Titanic that stresses speed and size and ignores the fundamentals, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) wrote in a statement yesterday.

Lee used the analogy to highlight his analysis of Taiwan’s economy in a seminar, organized by Taiwan Advocates, a think tank founded by the former president, which focused on national economic development.

Lee’s daughter, Annie Lee (李安妮), read the speech on behalf of the former president, who was fighting a mild case of the flu and was unable to attend.

“There are two pillars in Taiwan’s national economic security — an identity built upon economic and trade independence and a sustainable momentum of growth built upon technological advantages,” the 89-year-old wrote.

In the face of the threats posed by the global financial crisis, he wrote, Taiwan should reconsider the subordination of the banking economy to the real economy, reduce its dependence on China and promote agricultural and energy independence.

Lee Teng-hui said the agriculture and manufacturing sectors should be the main drivers of the economy, with the banking system secondary.

The current economic model of transferring most of the nation’s manufacturing overseas, particularly to China, is like “selling souls to the devil” and only benefits large corporations, he wrote.

Agriculture and renewable energy, he said, could be Taiwan’s key sectors as both provide job opportunities and promote economic growth.

Lee concluded by saying that the government should not stress trade liberalization and exports while ignoring the importance of national economic security and independent agriculture and energy.

The government should protect people’s basic standard of living in the future and restore people’s confidence on the market economy, he said.

The conference, which discussed Taiwan’s challenges in the current global economic situation, was the first of three seminars organized by the Taiwan Advocates that focus on Taiwan’s economic development.

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Annie Lee told reporters why her father said “there was no need for the Democratic Progressive Party to call for Taiwanese independence.”

“The establishment of national identity has been one of the most important concepts for my father. The necessity of the call for independence is really worth thinking about,” she said.

The most important task for the government is providing well-being and stability for the people, she added.

“There would be no country without the people,” she said.