Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 3 News List

President Tsai responds to Morris Chang criticism

RETORT:Chang said the responsibility of government is to build infrastructure, but Tsai disagreed with how he characterized the ‘five plus two’ industrial initiative

Staff writer, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said her administration’s “five plus two” industrial innovation development program is aimed at strengthening the nation’s entire industrial base and does not represent excessive government involvement in the economy.

In an interview published yesterday, Tsai said the program is being implemented based on sound industrial fundamentals and is expected to boost the nation’s competitiveness in global markets.

The “five plus two” industries refer to seven development projects proposed by the government to transform the nation’s economic and industrial structure.

Among them are a project to create an “Asian Silicon Valley,” along with projects related to biotechnology, “green” energy, smart machinery and national defense.

The projects were criticized late last month by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) chairman Morris Chang (張忠謀), who opposed the idea of the government taking the lead in developing specific sectors because, in his view, the government should not tell businesspeople what to do.

Instead, Chang said, the responsibility of the government is to build the nation’s infrastructure to support the future development of industry.

Tsai disagreed with how Chang characterized the initiative.

“The government does not intend to tell businesses what to do or what not to do,” Tsai said. “The government wants to take advantage of Taiwan’s existing industrial foundation to help the nation upgrade itself at a faster pace and become more competitive.”

Citing smart machinery development, Tsai said the nation already has a good machinery sector and a competitive information and communication sector, and the “five plus two” program would encourage manufacturers to integrate the two strengths to develop smart machinery for next-generation industries.

The government is well aware of its responsibility for the nation’s infrastructure, and its importance to the development and growth of enterprises, Tsai said.

Commenting on lingering worries over the “five shortages” in the industrial sector — water, electricity, land, manpower and talent — Tsai said her government is paying close attention to the issues.

In particular, the government is doing its best to tackle power shortages, especially after Taiwan was hit by a blackout caused by human error at the Datan Natural Gas Power Plant in Taoyuan on Aug. 15 and reduced supply resulting from a toppled power station tower in Hualien in July during a typhoon, Tsai said.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has been instructed to raise the nation’s electricity operating reserve margin to 10 percent to ensure a steady supply, she said.

The operating reserve margin — the percentage of generating capacity still available to a grid that can be called on within a short period of time — fell to below 2 percent in August.

On Monday, high temperatures sent the operating reserve margin down to a relatively low 4.2 percent, Taiwan Power Co said.

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