Fri, Jan 23, 2009 - Page 3 News List

Experts warn on Ma's economic policy

DANGEROUS PATHNational Taiwan University economics professor Kenneth Lin said signing an agreement with China was like injecting morphine: short-term and addictive

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Signing a comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA) with Beijing would create a “one China” market and lead to de jure unification with China, an economic expert attending a cross-strait forum said yesterday.

National Taiwan University economics professor Kenneth Lin (林向愷) said that the nation’s sovereignty would be under threat if it did not maintain its free choice on survival and development.

“Signing a CECA deserves the attention of all Taiwanese because once it is signed it will complete the framework of the ‘one China’ market,” Lin said. “Then both sides can sign a peace agreement to end the civil war and complete de jure unification with China.”

Lin made the remarks during a forum held by Taiwan Advocates to discuss cross-strait relations. The forum was also organized to promote the organization’s new book, One China: A Dangerous Sham.

Lin said the “one China” market concept was dangerous because it would mean Taiwan would depend on China for its survival and Beijing would become the nation’s only hope. Comparing Taiwan and Hong Kong, Lin said the nation’s situation was similar to that of Hong Kong in the 1980s when the former British colony’s industries relocated to China because of lower costs and cheaper labor.

To salvage Hong Kong’s soaring unemployment rate, China signed a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) with the territory in 2003, Lin said, with the aim of removing any imbalance between Hong Kong and the Pearl River Delta area.

“It is like injecting morphine,” Lin said. “It may resolve the problem for now, but it is addictive.”

Unlike Hong Kong, Taiwan is a sovereign state, Lin said, and all national leaders must seriously consider how to protect what the nation already has.

“Taiwan must not depend on China’s mercy,” Lin said. “It is very dangerous to let your enemy decide your fate.”

While President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has defended himself against criticism that he has sold out the nation, Lin said Ma has been doing exactly that since he took office in May, adding that it explained why many international economic research institutes had adjusted that nation’s growth rate down this year.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research arm of The Economist, for example, has revised its forecast from 1.3 percent to minus 2.9 percent, predicting the nation will be among the worst performers in the region this year.

The unemployment rate has also hit a three-year high and consumer confidence has dropped to the lowest level on record. The EIU also predicted that the government’s stimulus measures were unlikely to have a big impact on the economy.

Michael Hsiao (蕭新煌), executive director of Academia Sinica’s Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies, said while the Presidential Office interpreted Chinese President Hu Jintao’s (胡錦濤) “six points” remarks as a goodwill gesture, they were actually a trap.

Hsiao said Ma should have been aware of the decline in China’s economy, but his mindset was in line with that of Beijing and he is determined to pursue “one China,” which is against the wishes of the majority of Taiwanese.

Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), a researcher at the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica, said while he welcomed the nation’s participation in the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May, he said he hoped it would be made permanent and that the nation could become an observer.

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