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.
A video allegedly featuring retired general Kao An-kuo (高安國) calling on Taiwanese military officers to surrender to China and overthrow the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) government has sparked outrage and calls for him to be charged with treason. The video, titled “A message to Taiwanese military officers,” allegedly shows Kao saying: “I call on commanding officers of our military troops to stand up for Chinese nationalism, to take up this duty under heaven’s mandate to save Taiwanese from oppression and terrible suffering.” Dressed in military fatigues and a beret, the lieutenant general called on officers to overthrow the “fraudulent DPP regime,”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday rejected the claim Beijing has been making about Taiwan’s status, while thanking US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman for raising concerns about Taiwan during her meeting with Chinese officials. Sherman met with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) on a visit to Tianjin on Sunday and Monday, with Wang urging Washington not to infringe on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Taiwan is part of China, a fundamental fact that would never change, and China has the right to take any action needed to restrain Taiwanese independence, Wang said, urging Washington to abide
A solo exhibition by Taiwanese artist Lee Kuang-yu (李光裕) at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay has generated considerable attention since its opening last year, including from Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (李顯龍). Since the COVID-19 pandemic closed borders early last year, domestic tourism in Singapore has soared at destinations such as the popular Gardens by the Bay, a nature park in the city-state’s Central Region. Since the venue’s reopening in August last year, “A Sculptor’s Secret Garden,” a solo exhibition of Lee Kuang-yu’s work curated by Tan Hwee Koon (陳慧君), has been been especially popular. Originally scheduled to close today, the show
HASTY REVIEW CLAIMS: Medigen’s vaccine, which is to start phase 3 clinical trials later this year, should not have received emergency use authorization, Hau said Former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) vice chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) is to appeal the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) authorization of Medigen Vaccine Biologics’ COVID-19 vaccine, he said yesterday. The administration on July 19 granted Medigen emergency use authorization, even though the drugmaker had not yet completed phase 3 clinical trials. The government should not authorize the use of a vaccine that has not completed phase 3 trials, Hau said in Taipei on the sidelines of an event to distribute boxed meals with former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Broadcasting Corp of China chairman Jaw Shaw-kong (趙少康). Hau said the government had politicized