President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that lifting a ban on direct flights and shipping to China won't be a "cure-all" for the economy, noting that Hong Kong and Singapore, which have transport links with China, have suffered economic woes in recent years.
Chen was addressing criticism that he hasn't been aggressive enough in ending the transport barriers that began 54 years ago when the Communists took over China and Taiwan began resisting Beijing's rule.
Several business leaders have complained that Chen's reluctance to lift the ban is seriously crippling the nation's economy and handicapping domestic companies that want to be more competitive in China's booming market. When going to China, Taiwanese travelers and goods must stop at a third point -- usually Hong Kong or Macau -- before arriving in China. The stopover wastes time and money, businesses say.
But Chen said companies should not overestimate the importance of China.
"The mainland Chinese market is naturally important," Chen said in a speech to businesses. "But it's also full of risk and danger. It's only one part of the global market, not the whole thing."