President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) continued his campaign to explain his rationale for signing an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China yesterday when he addressed the Taiwan Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Taipei.
In his brief introduction, Ma said that Sunday’s debate on an ECFA with Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had helped increase the number of people who understood the trade pact, as well as public support for it, without providing sources.
“In the last 10 years, we have seen tremendous change in Asia. In year 2000, we had only three free-trade agreements,” Ma said in English. “By last year, the number went up to 58. Taiwan should not be isolated in this reform.”
PHOTO: MAURICE TSAI, BLOOMBERG
“I’ve always said that we can handle diplomatic isolation, but economic isolation is fatal,” the president said. “We have to do something about it.”
On whether an ECFA would have a similar political impact on Taiwan as the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement did on Hong Kong, Ma said Taiwan is not like Hong Kong, adding: “We are an independent country.”
None of the 12 agreements signed by his administration and Beijing in the past two years undermined Taiwan’s sovereignty, he said. None of them included “one China” or “one country, two systems,” nor will an ECFA, Ma said.
“There will be no political language in the ECFA documents,” Ma said, emphasizing that the pact would be purely economic.
However, turning to the possibility of signing free-trade agreements (FTA) with major economies in the region, Ma said that FTAs had “lots of political considerations,” which made them difficult to negotiate.
The DPP administration’s insistence on signing FTAs using a different name from its official WTO designation had made this situation worse and explained why Taiwan was only able to sign four FTAs with its Latin American allies during that period, Ma said.
The president characterized those agreements as inconsequential economically.
Other countries, which he did not name, have reportedly told his administration they would be willing to consider FTAs with Taiwan, but recommended he sign an ECFA with China first.
“The logic is very simple ... If we are able to sign an ECFA with the mainland [China], obviously the pressure on other countries will decrease,” Ma said. “Taiwan is the No. 18 trading country in the world. It’s also in their interest to trade with us and they will have the courage to do that [after an ECFA is signed].”
Ma said his FTA taskforce had many potential candidates, but would not specify how many deals he hoped to achieve and remained evasive on whether he had concrete evidence that Beijing would allow Taiwan to sign such agreements.
WAR FUNDING: A report by UK and Ukrainian defense analysts said that Taiwanese exports of a compound used in gunpowder have been helping Russia propagate its war About 20 percent of nitrocellulose — a compound used in gunpowder — imported into Russia has been sourced from Taiwan, a joint British-Ukrainian investigative report showed. Nitrocellulose is a key component of smokeless gunpowder, and the EU has banned export of the compound to Russia due to its ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine. The report said that nitrocellulose produced in Taiwan makes its way to Russia by passing through other countries such as Turkey. Only one company, T.N.C. Industrial Co (台硝), was named in the report, which also named China and Germany as key sources of the compound for
A Singaporean social media streamer who goes by the pseudonym Kiaraakitty faked an egg attack by an alleged passerby during a livestream in Kaohsiung on Feb. 9, the city’s police department said on Saturday. The department was responding to the streamer’s claim earlier this month that a stranger had thrown eggs at her during a recent visit to Kaohsiung. Kiaraakitty is known for posting provocative content on livestreaming sites such as Twitch and Discord, as well as other social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. She also posts on paid adult content Web site OnlyFans. In the video dated Feb. 9,
HOT TOPIC: The Taiwan-born founder of a restaurant in the Japanese city is generally credited with creating the super spicy dish, which was originally intended as a staff meal For Taiwanese, ramen is one of the dishes that most represents Japan; for Japanese, its origins are in China. Then there is “Taiwan ramen,” which can only be found in Japan, but not in Taiwan. It is almost impossible to reach a consensus on the origin of any dish, but a brief look at its history might be helpful. Not many people who are not Japanese question whether ramen is really Japanese. Yet think about it — ramen is often unctuous and rich, unlike most other must-try Japanese foods familiar to foreign visitors to the country, such as sushi and soba noodles. According
MORE THAN USUAL: The number of naval ships in the area was more than the usual four to six in a 24-hour window and the highest so far this year, data showed Eleven Chinese naval vessels were detected around Taiwan, the highest daily number this year, the Ministry of National Defense said yesterday as a row between Taipei and Beijing over a fatal fishing boat incident drags on. In the 24 hours leading up to 6am yesterday, China deployed 15 warplanes, 11 naval vessels and one balloon in the waters and skies around Taiwan, the ministry said. At least 15 more Chinese warplanes had been detected since then, it said. The number of Chinese naval ships was more than the usual four to six in a 24-hour window and the highest so far this year,