Thu, Mar 14, 2002 - Page 3 News List

Chen to relax China trade policy

GET ADVICE The president visited with James Heckman, Nobel laureate in economics. Heckman says Taiwan needs to stop worrying and should increase investment in China

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that while the government must relax its cross-strait policy, it will deal cautiously with the new economic and trade relations with China.

At a time when the nation's political and industrial circles are vigorously debating whether the government should lift the ban on building eight-inch wafer foundries in China, Chen's statements indicate a more liberal approach to the matter.

"As a result of brainstorming at the Economic Development Advisory Conference last August, the cross-strait `no haste, be patient policy' was modified and a new policy of `active opening, effective management,' emerged," Chen told the visiting scholar James Heckman, the Nobel laureate in economics in 2000.

"The modification is needed to correspond with the changes of time and space."

The president's outlook

The president said that economics and trade are the lifeline of Taiwan and he emphasized that Taiwan's perseverance will overcome the difficulties of the current international recession. Taiwan will also be careful when handling new economic and trade relations with China, he added.

Chen's meeting with the scholar attracted attention because Heckman has recommended that Taiwan loosen its restrictions on investment in China.

The interview

When interviewed by a local newspaper on Monday, the economics professor at the University of Chicago said that politics has played too large a role in the decision concerning whether Taiwan's authorities should approve the construction of eight-inch wafer factories in China.

According to Heckman, to allow politics to override the economic issue when making formulating policy is "shortsighted."

Very profitable

He pointed out that the lifting the ban would be "very profitable in the long term."

Heckman said that Taiwanese shouldn't worry excessively about whether Chinese would use the top-notch technology to develop weapons because the chance that China would attack Taiwan is very small.

Heckman said with its cheap labor, lower cost of materials, and abundant natural resources, China is full of opportunities and is a place that traditional industries should take advantage of.

Continuing the same theme, Heckman told Chen yesterday that there is no reason for Taiwan to be afraid of China in international economic competition because Taiwan leads China in terms of its talent and creativity.

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