Wang Mei-hua (王美花) on Saturday formally assumed her new position as head of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), replacing Shen Jong-chin (沈榮津), who became vice premier. Wang is the third woman in her post, following Christine Tsung (宗才怡) and Ho Mei-yueh (何美玥).
Although the possibility of substantial changes in the government’s economic policies is low, the challenges for the new minister are no less formidable.
Wang has worked at the Intellectual Property Office for 17 years and was its director-general for nearly 10 years. Taking the helm at the MOEA, she has broken with tradition, as usually staff from either the Industrial Development Bureau or the Bureau of Foreign Trade are chosen.
However, as Wang was vice minister of the MOEA for the past four years, her promotion came as no surprise.
It is clear that she was chosen to expedite President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) plans to develop six core strategic industries to transform Taiwan into a critical force in the global economy, as highlighted in Tsai’s inaugural address on May 20.
However, Wang faces the immediate challenges of dealing with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, renegotiating the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China and promoting Taiwan’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The key to these is whether she has clear plans.
Additionally, Wang faces the same challenges as her predecessor, such as how to increase domestic investment, encourage private consumption, promote business innovation and transform the nation’s economic structure. Despite her nearly three decades of experience in the public sector, the release of the government’s Triple Stimulus Vouchers on July 15 is to be her first real test as a minister, as it remains to be seen whether the program will effectively boost domestic consumer activity.
Last week, the central bank lowered its forecast for the nation’s GDP growth this year from 1.92 percent to 1.52 percent, which is higher than the 0.8 percent growth forecast for Taiwan by the Asian Development Bank, but lower than the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics’ estimate of 1.67 percent growth. While it would be admirable if Taiwan’s economic growth remained positive compared with most other countries facing deep recessions due to pandemic-related lockdowns, COVID-19 in Taiwan has wreaked havoc on small firms, retailers, airlines, hotels, restaurants and travel agencies.
In other words, Wang must vigorously promote the government’s policies to push the nation’s economic development forward during the post-COVID era. Three government incentive programs that aim to attract investment from Taiwanese businesses have borne fruit and laid solid groundwork for the nation’s so-called “economic revitalization.” The government now needs more workable policies to encourage domestic consumption.
Despite the challenges ahead, it is good that Shen has moved to the post of vice premier. He can continue sharing his expertise, while fostering coordination between Wang, National Development Council Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), who took office last month, and other ministries.
As major economies are seeking to relocate their global supply chains out of China amid the pandemic, trade tensions and geopolitical conflicts, Taiwan must seize the opportunity to develop itself under a new global economic system and more competent people must be put in charge of the work.
As the Soviet Union was collapsing in the late 1980s and Russia seemed to be starting the process of democratization, 36-year-old US academic Francis Fukuyama had the audacity to assert that the world was at the “end of history.” Fukuyama claimed that democratic systems would become the norm, and peace would prevail the world over. He published a grandiose essay, “The End of History?” in the summer 1989 edition of the journal National Interest. Overnight, Fukuyama became a famous theorist in the US, western Europe, Japan and even Taiwan. Did the collapse of the Soviet Union mark the end of an era as
During a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on Monday, US President Joe Biden for the third time intimated that the US would take direct military action to defend Taiwan should China attack. Responding to a question from a reporter — Would Washington be willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan? — Biden replied with an unequivocal “Yes.” As per Biden’s previous deviations from the script of the US’ longstanding policy of “strategic ambiguity” — maintaining a deliberately nebulous position over whether the US would intervene militarily in the event of a conflagration between Taiwan and
Will the US come to the defense of Taiwan if and when China makes its move? Like most friends of Taiwan, I’ve been saying “yes” for a couple decades. But the truth is that none of us, in or out of government, really know. This is precisely why we all need to show humility in our advice on how Taiwan should prepare itself for such an eventuality. After all, it’s their country, and they have no choice but to live with the consequences. A couple weeks ago the New York Times published an article that put this reality in stark relief. As
US President Joe Biden has done it again — for the third time in the past nine months he has stated that the US will defend Taiwan. And for the third time, his administration officials have rushed to “clarify” that US policy toward Taiwan “has not changed” and Washington still follows its “one China policy.” That is the same scenario that played out with two other presidents. When asked the question posed to Biden in 2001, then-US president George W. Bush said Washington would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan against Chinese aggression. In 2020, then-US president Donald Trump