Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday said that while she would continue to support free trade, she was concerned about Taiwan’s economic dependence on China and the slow development of its economy.
Tsai, who launched her political career as an international trade negotiator in the 1980s, said she has always been one of the strongest supporters of a free trade system in an interview with Cross-Strait Trade magazine.
“I will never be an isolationist. I will never be a conservative,” she said.
Tsai also said it was important to “prepare yourself for the opening of markets and to adjust your economy for the potential impact.”
Taiwan has not done well in that department, Tsai said, with President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration relying heavily on Beijing’s “surrender of benefits.”
In addition, the current administration failed to explain to the public the negative impact on the local economy of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which it signed in June 2010, and instead sought to highlight only the benefits it would bring.
Taiwan, along with the rest of the world, is now facing an unprecedented situation in which expansionary fiscal and monetary policies are failing to counter the economic crisis.
Things have worsened for Taiwan with its food sufficiency rates standing at only 32 percent and the development of emerging industries hampered by rigid regulation and limited resources, Tsai said.
Tsai said she has been advocating the development of a local community-based economy that takes advantage of local characteristics and professional expertise, as well as tapping into the creativity of younger generations to develop a sustainable domestic economy.
On cross-strait relations, the former presidential candidate reiterated that she would not rule out a visit to China “when the time is ripe.”
“However, I will need to know what my goal is, and whether the visit would be helping cross-strait engagement,” Tsai said.
Tsai, who does not currently hold any position in the party, said she always thought that more exchanges and understanding would be good for Taiwan and China.
Taiwan and China need to share a common knowledge that peace across the Taiwan Strait is for the best and each side has to try to understand the other, she said.