Tsai (asking follow-up question): Taiwanese businesses relocating their plants to China is the main reason why made-in-Taiwan products are being replaced by those made in China. After you sign an ECFA, many small and medium businesses will have to move to China. There’s not a rule that you have to keep everything secret during negotiations, and only publicize the information after the negotiations are complete. Would public opinion do any good at that stage? Would you reopen the negotiations?
The WTO has passed stricter rules on transparency in FTAs, but many people are saying that KMT officials have economic interests in China. Would you openly announce that you will check the economic interests of all your party or government officials in China to avoid conflicts of interest during negotiations?
Ma: You said that the decline of Taiwan’s market share in the world is related to opening up to the Mainland, but why didn’t you do anything back in 2002 when the government — under the DPP — opened up to the Mainland? Why didn’t you do anything as MAC chairperson? How can you blame it on us? We only took over government less than two years ago. In 2000, only 24 percent of Taiwan’s international business was with the Mainland, but in 2008, the number was 40 percent. Since I was inaugurated, the increase from 2008 to 2009 was only 1 percent. How can you blame it on us?
When you imposed tight restrictions on cross-strait relations, Taiwanese businesses were reluctant to come back, now when we loosened it up and allowed direct cross-strait flights, well, many businesses investing in the Mainland, like Tinghsin, Want Want and Natural Beauty, are coming back. We understand what businesses want, they want free movement, so when it’s easier to move around, they’re coming back. In the past, people said that there were only Taiwanese tourists going to the Mainland, well, now Mainland tourists are coming to Taiwan too — more than 1 million visited Taiwan last year. Opening cautiously is what a responsible government is supposed to do.
As to whether people participating in negotiations have conflicts of interest, well, we welcome anyone to report it to us if that happens. I have higher expectations about the cleanness of officials than the previous governing party. Signing an ECFA is not for personal gain, but for the benefit of the entire country, for Taiwan’s long-term benefit.