Taiwan must not revert back to reliance on China’s economy, Vice President William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday, adding that opening to more Chinese students and workers as advocated by the opposition could lead to difficult conditions for young Taiwanese.
The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate elaborated on his economic platform while visiting two Matsu temples and a local market in Taipei’s Songshan District (松山) yesterday morning.
Boosting the economy involves not just developing science and technology sectors, but also its medium, small and microenterprises, Lai said.
Photo: Ritchie B. Tongo, EPA-EFE
“In traditional markets, we like to see all vendors have active businesses to make a living, then our society can strive forward,” he said. “It is my job to take care of everyone, to help their livelihood.”
“Our government has approved free tuition for highschools and vocational schools starting next year, as well as tuition and school expense subsidies for students at private colleges,” Lai said.
“When our citizens pursue their goals, our nation can make progress,” he added.
Lai asked local residents and market vendors if they want the government to restart the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) talks with China, which the presidential candidates of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Taiwan People’s Party have said they favor.
“If they sign the agreement, then [Chinese citizens] can come here and open chicken rice restaurants,” he said, pointing to a nearby restaurant sign.
“There are correct ways to boost our economy and stimulate growth. It is wrong to go backward and regress onto past roads. It is the wrong policy to push for economic growth by locking Taiwan up to only depend on China’s economy,” he said.
He also quoted the KMT’s presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), who said that he supports welcoming more Chinese university students, who could take jobs in Taiwan after graduating.
“If Chinese students come to Taiwan in large numbers, what would Taiwan’s young people be left with?” Lai added.
Experts say that China is facing an economic crisis, and its youth jobless rate was at 20 percent in June before Beijing stopped releasing figures, with some observers saying it has likely now reached 40 percent, he said.
Afterward, Lai headed south to Nanshan Fude Temple in New Taipei City’s Jhonghe District (中和) to stump for DPP legislative candidate Justin Wu (吳崢), who was a student leader in the 2014 Sunflower movement.
“Justin was an activist in his university days. He joined in the occupation of the legislature when protests began in March 2014,” Lai said.
“Students and young people at the time were fighting against the KMT’s forcing through of the CSSTA in the legislature without proper deliberation procedures,” he said.
“It was young people and student activists, Wu among them, who successfully blocked the KMT’s cross-strait economic deal. They were the ones who safeguarded Taiwan’s healthy economic development,” he added.
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