A government proposal to establish free economic pilot zones is aimed at facilitating economic liberalization and consolidating the nation’s economic alliance with Japan to counter competition from China, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said in an interview with the BBC’s Chinese-language service.
People who think that the plan is aimed mainly at enhancing economic cooperation between Taiwan and China have “failed to recognize the strategic value” of the proposal, Jiang said in the interview on Monday, of which the transcript was released to the press yesterday.
Contrary to popular understanding, the proposal was drafted to promote a model in which businesses in Taiwan and Japan could cooperate with each other in the fields of finance and technology to compete with their Chinese peers on global markets, Jiang said.
During the interview, Jiang also pushed for a meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), saying it would be “beneficial to people on both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait.”
“We will make every effort to foster the meeting,” Jiang said.
Jiang said the government has tried to allay Chinese concern that Ma’s proposal to meet Xi on the sidelines of an APEC meeting is an attempt to use an international event to elevate Taiwan’s international profile.
“We have been trying to make the other side [China] understand that we have no intention of internationalizing the Taiwan issue or making a political statement by having the meeting take place at an APEC summit,” Jiang said.
With regard to the next step on the government’s roadmap for cross-strait development following an exchange of visits between Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) earlier this year, Jiang said that political issues are inevitable.
Issues related to the establishment of representative offices in Taiwan and China to institutionalize cross-strait negotiations and “meetings between top leaders of both sides” to strengthen the basis for peaceful development of cross-strait relations are political in nature, Jiang said.
“We have to face the issues sooner or later,” he said.
Asked about the Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong and the appeal by hundreds of thousands of Hong Kong residents for direct election of the territory’s leader, Jiang said he was not in a position to comment on the issue in detail.
“The [administration in] Mainland China and Hong Kong handles the issue at a scheduled pace, but civil society expects them to adapt to meet their expectations. Like what we have experienced [in Taiwan], they should use their wisdom in facing the issue,” Jiang said.
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