Accusing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) of adopting a “locked-up country” policy toward Beijing, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said if Taiwan signed an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China, the country would have a very different position in world trade.
Ma said that in the past decade, Taiwan straitjacketed itself with tight regulations and conservative policies, confusing investors over the direction the country and China were headed.
His administration’s goal is clear, however, Ma said. It is to build Taiwan into a global innovation center and regional trade hub, a global operation headquarter for Taiwanese businesspeople and a regional operation center for foreign investors, he said.
As China is soon to become the world’s second-largest economy, Ma said, Taiwan must maintain a “proper relationship” with it.
“It’s not a matter of whether we like it or not, but something we must do,” he said while inspecting Taoyuan International Airport. “If we don’t, we will lag behind. Our global economic competitiveness will fall and we will be marginalized. Taiwan must seize this opportunity.”
Ma said since the country will soon sign an ECFA with Beijing, Taiwan will have a different position in the global economy.
Meanwhile, the Presidential Office yesterday also accused the former DPP administration of adopting a belligerent foreign policy that repelled US senators from visiting the country.
A senior official who spoke on condition of anonymity said interactions between Taipei and Washington were smooth and sound when the DPP came to power in 2000, thanks to the groundwork laid by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
Many US senators visited Taiwan during that time, he said. However, Taiwan-US relations took a nosedive after former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) adopted a hawkish foreign policy, he said, completely squandering the diplomatic capital mustered by the KMT and undermining Washington’s trust in Taiwan.
The recent visit of a US Senate delegation was an indicator of improved Taiwan-US ties, he said.
The official made the remarks after criticism that the government had inflated the effectiveness of Ma’s cross-strait policy following a recent visit headed by Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California.
The delegation was the first group of US senators to visit Taipei since Ma took office in May 2008.
Ma, who met Feinstein on Saturday, said it was “beyond imagination” that the delegation could come after visiting Beijing and Shanghai and that it was made possible because of cross-strait detente. KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fan (林郁方) also said the visit was of significance to Taiwan-US relations.
The DPP rejected the president’s comments yesterday and said he should stop discrediting the opposition party on “false issues.”
Director of the DPP’s Department of International Affairs Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) said the DPP had adopted a more pragmatic China policy during its term in office that aimed to normalize relations.
It is the Ma administration that engaged in “reckless” policies with China at the expense of Taiwan’s global ties, she said.
“It is Ma who is really locking the country; he is locking Taiwan’s relations to China,” Hsiao said.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY VINCENT Y. CHAO