Cross-strait relations should be dealt with under a multilateral or regional framework because Taiwan’s small yet advanced economy would very likely be absorbed and superseded by China’s larger economy, former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said in an interview with Radio Television Hong Kong.
“If we dealt with the issues of free trade or free-trade agreements with a perspective based on the whole of Asia, things would be different. We would see the ‘balance effect’ we want to see in Taiwan’s engagement in regional economic integration,” Tsai said in the interview which aired in Hong Kong and southern China on Friday.
The video of the interview was not released by Tsai’s office until yesterday.
Tsai highlighted the dangers of Taiwan engaging Beijing bilaterally, adding that China is facing daunting challenges of social injustice and growing inequalities of wealth, the price it is paying for its strategy of developing certain parts of the country while leaving others behind, she said.
“Social instability also forced China to put political reform on hold, if it ever intended to implement it,” she said in the 20-minute interview conducted in May.
She would not visit China if the trip would not have a positive effect on bilateral relations and the political situation, she said.
One-and-a-half years after the presidential election, the former DPP presidential candidate also revisited her loss by 800,000 votes to President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and reviewed Ma’s performance.
“Frankly, the results were not what I had expected. Exterior interference contributed [to the loss] and voters became conservative during the last two weeks of the campaign due to fears of change and uncertainty,” she said.
“However, I’m sure many people regret their decision now,” she said.
Ma has always been a conservative who cannot lead the charge and implement real change, she said, adding that Ma could make “bad changes” if forced to take action.
Asked about her plans for the next election, Tsai was low-key, saying that it is too early to say if she would run in 2016, adding that she would continue to make herself “one of people’s options.”
On Hong Kong, Tsai said she was concerned about backsliding on freedom of speech and judicial justice, which were once the pride of the former British colony and the entire Chinese-speaking world.
Regarding Beijing’s promise of “one country, two systems,” Tsai said that the concept has been intensively promoted and implemented by Beijing, while the people of Hong Kong found that they have had trouble safeguarding the “two systems” aspect of the ideology.
If Taiwan’s experience could provide a lesson, Tsai said she hoped the people of Hong Kong would understand that democracy “would not be given to you by the goodwill of those in power.”
“You have to fight for it. That’s how Taiwan was democratized,” she said.