Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday pledged to help the government promote an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China. Hau also resolved to improve city projects such as the MRT Wenhu Line and the Maokong Gondola as he celebrated his third anniversary in office.
The Taipei City Government will create a team dedicated to promoting the ECFA and will invite experts to explain the meaning and potential effects of the ECFA to the public, Hau told reporters.
“Many people oppose signing an ECFA with China because they do not understand what [it] is ... China would no longer be a factory for Taiwanese companies if we signed an ECFA — it would become a market [for them] and benefit Taiwanese businesses,” he said.
Hau said the city government would set up gate-keeping measures for Chinese imports, adding that an ECFA would make Taiwan more international.
“The Democratic Progressive Party [DPP] insists on closing the country to the international community because of its anti-China stance, but Taiwan should have the confidence to embrace a challenge and benefit from opening to more opportunities,” he said.
Hau’s statement may have been a political signal as media have speculated about tension between him and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).
Hau yesterday also invited former premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of the DPP to run against him in next year’s Taipei mayoral election.
Various opinion polls have suggested that Su and DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) are among the DPP’s strongest potential candidates for next year’s five special municipality elections.
A poll conducted by Chinese-language China Times on Monday indicated that Su would be the DPP’s strongest candidate for next year’s Taipei mayoral election.
Thirty-nine percent of the 1,000 Taipei residents polled said they would vote for Su, while Hau enjoyed a support rate of 41 percent. If the race were to pit Tsai against Hau, around 35 percent said they would vote for Tsai, while 48 percent said they would support Hau.
“Taipei is the capital city and deserves an election race between the best candidates,” Hau said.
Hau promised to use the remainder of the year to continue improving municipal projects including the malfunction-plagued Wenhu Line and the Maokong Gondola, which remains closed after the ground eroded from underneath part of a support pillar.
Hau also said he would use next year’s Taipei International Flora Expo to promote the city to the world.
Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday also marked her third anniversary in office. She pledged to build a “new” Kaohsiung in the coming year.
Chen told a press conference at the city government that her biggest task during the coming year would be to oversee the merger between Kaohsiung City and County.
“After the merger, Kaohsiung will have a population of 2.77 million people — more than the population of Jamaica or Mongolia,” Chen said. “In light of the [new] municipality’s size, it can be seen as a ‘nation within a nation.’”
Chen said the city and county could complement each other, with the city setting up a bureau in charge of logistics of agricultural products from the county.
Chen said she expected districts in the city and county to enjoy equal footing after the merger and to fight for more funding from the central government.
“I believe the central government should listen to the voice of southern Taiwan and give us what we deserve,” she said.