Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Lai warns of impact of China imports

CROSS-STRAIT TIES The Mainland Affairs Council chief said that while China offers both risks and opportunities, caution is advised given complex political problems

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday warned of the perils of allowing massive imports of Chinese products, saying the government must address the issue.

“Because of the special nature of cross-strait relations and the disparity between the two economies, Taiwan must take into consideration the potential impact on domestic industry and employment that may result from the massive import of Chinese goods,” Lai said.

Lai made the comments during a telephone interview with the International Community Radio Taipei station yesterday morning.

Lai said the next round of high-level talks between Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), will be held after the Lunar New Year.

Issues on the agenda include establishing a cooperative mechanism for banking supervision, cross-strait securities and futures supervision, financial transactions, currency settlement, double taxation, investment protection, joint efforts to combat crime, and quarantine and inspection of farm products.

Both sides have also agreed to make arrangements for scheduled flights, regular passenger and cargo flights within the next six months, she said.

If all goes well, Lai said, she hoped agreements could be signed at the third Chiang-Chen meeting.

Speaking later yesterday at the monthly luncheon of the European Chamber of Commerce Taipei, Lai promised to further relax cross-strait policies, including allowing Chinese investment in Taiwan and easing restrictions on visits of Chinese technical, professional and business talent.

Liberalization will only “pump fresh vitality into Taiwan's economy, attracting more foreign businesses and transnational firms to invest in Taiwan,” she said in English.

“At the present stage of cross-strait relations, we can no longer treat the mainland as simply a threat, but must also look to it as a source of potential opportunity,” she said.

Lai acknowledged that cross-strait relations were “extremely complex,” and political differences were not easy to resolve within a short period of time.

Therefore, as the administration continues to work on improving cross-strait relations, it will also seek support from the international community, including the US, Japan and the EU, the MAC chief said.

“We hope that the relevant countries also can play a positive and active role in cross-strait interaction,” she said.

At a separate setting yesterday Tung Li-wen (董立文), a professor at the Department and Graduate School of Public Security of the Central Police University, said Beijing was likely to allow Taiwan to participate in the World Health Assembly in May this year.

Whether Beijing would give Taiwan more international space will depend on President Ma Ying-jeou's (馬英九) response, Tung said during a forum organized by the SEF to discuss cross-strait prospects.

Yang Kai-huang (楊開煌), a public affairs professor at Ming Chuan University, said Beijing might let Taiwan partake in international “activities” but would not easily budge on allowing Taiwan to join international “organizations.”

Tu Jenn-hwa (杜震華), a social science professor at National Taiwan University, said that unless the administration responds positively to Chinese President Hu Jintao's (胡錦濤) “six-point” remarks, he did not think cross-strait relations would make any substantive progress.

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