Wed, Mar 13, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Kaohsiung zone ‘would be harmful’

By Hsieh Chun-lin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau Director Pan Heng-hsu talks to reporters in an undated photograph.

Photo: Ke Yu-hao, Taipei Times

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday criticized a proposal by Kaohsiung Mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) to establish an autonomous economic zone in the city, saying that the move would be detrimental to the nation’s economy.

As the US-China trade dispute continues, China would likely use the municipality as an export base if its economy were run separately, which would split the nation’s exports and cause Taiwan to be seen as collaborating with China against the US, Su told reporters outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Plans for an autonomous economic zone in Kaohsiung would be unlikely to receive legislative approval, Su said, citing a similar proposal made during the tenure of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九).

That proposal failed to pass review, even though the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) held a legislative majority, he said.

The zone would also create unequal development at the expense of businesses operating outside the zone, Su said.

Members of the global economy that are seen to be competing unfairly through property taxes are being scrutinized, he said, adding that the establishment of such a zone in Kaohsiung would subject Taiwan to the same scrutiny, which would harm the nation’s overall economy.

Such a proposal also does not fit the global trend toward free competition, he said, adding that Taiwan’s best course of action would be to find ways to make the nation more competitive as a whole.

Meanwhile, Su said he had no comment when asked about reports that China’s Chongqing Zoo is to send pandas to Shou Shan Zoo in Kaohsiung.

Past claims about Chinese plans to send pandas to the city have proven false, he said.

Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau Director Pan Heng-hsu (潘恆旭) on Monday said that he met with Chinese National People’s Congress member Xu Pei (許沛) last week, who Beijing claims represents Taiwan.

Xu said she plans to propose sending Kaohsiung two pandas — a seven-year-old female named Rong Rong (融融) and an eight-year-old male named Xiong Xiong (雄雄) — during the second session of the congress, which is being held until Friday.

Shou Shan Zoo would be required to file an application with the Council of Agriculture before the pandas could be accepted, in accordance with quarantine regulations, the Mainland Affairs Council said.

The zoo could also seek assistance from the Taipei Zoo, which has experience with receiving pandas from China, it added.

However, Xu yesterday denied having ever met with Pan.

Such a decision would have to go through Beijing, and she merely made a suggestion, Xu said on the sidelines of the congress meeting in Beijing.

Pan later said that he met Chongqing Yutai Economic and Cultural Exchange Center Director Wang Lugang (王呂剛), not Xu, adding that Beijing has not yet decided whether to gift Kaohsiung the pandas.

Additional reporting by CNA and Sean Lin

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