Business group calls for faster cross-strait opening ...

FROM WASHINGTON: The US-ROC Business Council voiced strong support for improved Taiwan-China economic ties, including movement on direct links


Fri, Dec 20, 2002 - Page 3

The US-ROC Business Council voiced strong support for improved Taiwan-China economic ties, including movement on direct links, apparently taking issue with the DPP government's reluctance to move forward on the matter.

At a press conference in Washington, the council expressed sentiments that are in tune with recent comments made by American Institute in Taiwan Director Douglas Paal and the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan calling for closer cross-strait economic integration.

"The more there is movement on the three links, the more likely you are going to get investment in Taiwan," said outgoing council chairman Frank Carlucci. He said both Taipei and Beijing can benefit by increasing their economic ties.

"I don't think it is a zero-sum game between Taiwan and the PRC by any means," Carlucci, a former US defense secretary, said.

Council president Rupert Ham-mond-Chambers added his voice to those calling for greater economic exchanges.

"There is some confusion about the direction of Taiwan's economy and, of course, in cross-strait trade," he said.

"We feel that economic integration is a favorable development, and appropriately conditioned, the Taiwan economy can reap enormous dividends as well as its US partners," Hammond-Chambers said.

Both of the council leaders confirmed reports that the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan is losing members for a variety of reasons, including economic weakness, continued differences over intellectual property rights and the government's restrictive cross-strait policies.

Paal has repeatedly urged Taiwan's government to move forward on direct links and on economic relations with China, arguing, as the business council has, that economic ties would benefit Taiwan's economy and would not imperil national security.

During a post-election meeting with re-elected Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) last week, Paal was quoted as saying that US companies are leaving Taiwan because of the government's restrictive cross-strait policies. The AIT declined to comment on Ma's statements.

Earlier, Paal upset many conservatives in Washington with comments supporting increased Taiwanese investment in China. In a speech to the American Chamber in September, Paal said, "If Taiwan continues to view the mainland through the prism of economic threat, it is in danger of isolating itself and getting cut out of tomorrow's deals."

While the Business Council executives conceded the US business community has problems with the DPP government's cross-strait economic policy, they were upbeat.

"I suspect that [the current problems] will be overcome, and that the Taiwan economy is fundamentally strong," Carlucci said. "With the passage of time, I suspect American businessmen will come back."