Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

China Times: Beef import policy stirs political storm

China Times: Beef import policy stirs political storm

The way President Ma Ying-jeou has handled the issue of opening Taiwan's market to U.S. beef containing residues of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine has gone terribly awry. Instead of trying to quell the controversy, the government allowed the situation to escalate into a political storm. The beef import policy is not a purely health issue. It also involves many political considerations such as Taiwan-U.S. relations, resumption of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks between the two sides and Taiwan's participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Obviously, the government is being forced to open Taiwan's market under pressure from the United States. But the decision-making process was rash and unpolished, which allowed the controversy to snowball and made people feel that the government was not standing on their side. For one thing, Ma already told American Institute in Taiwan Chairman Raymond Burghardt that he would deal with the beef issue in January, before there was any domestic communication or consensus on the matter. His administration later held three meetings with experts, leading to a surge in opposition from the private sector. All of a sudden, the government announced this week that it would conditionally lift the ban on the imports of ractopamine-tainted beef. This gave people the impression that the government had long reached a deal with the Americans and was only putting up a show by holding those meetings. In particular, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs repeatedly denied there was any pressure from the U.S. side. It appears to the people that the government was lying through its teeth. The blatant and overbearing pressure exerted by the U.S. government on Taiwan only added fuel to the fire. It was as if Taiwan had an obligation to open its market to U.S. beef. Many people in Taiwan find such an attitude hard to swallow. It will be difficult to continue to promote the policy unless the government is able to restore the people's trust. The Ma administration needs to communicate more with the public, show its care for people's health in a humble and responsible manner, and be honest about the government's national interest considerations. (Editorial abstract -- March 8, 2012) (By Y.F. Low)


Updated : 2021-10-16 17:58 GMT+08:00