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Former government officials call for speedy economic transition

Former government officials call for speedy economic transition

Two former government officials on Sunday urged President-elect Tsai Ing-wen to speed up the pace of Taiwan's economic transition so as to increase its bargaining chips with China.

During her election campaign, Tsai repeatedly spoke about cross-strait peace and stability, while China has not used any harsh words against the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), thus allowing "room for communication" between both sides, said Hu Sheng-cheng, a former head of the Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) and now an academician at the nation's top research body Academia Sinica.

Hu, who headed the CEPD under the last DPP administration, said China has learned to adjust its policy toward Taiwan since the massive student-led protest in 2014 against a cross-strait trade deal.

He said Taiwan's incoming government could use its public mandate to increase its bargaining chips in trade talks with China.

Tung Chen-yuan, who was deputy head of the Mainland Affairs Council under the administration of former president Chen Shui-bian, said Taiwan earlier had misgivings about whether it would benefit from cross-strait trade because at the time, such exchanges were a one-way flow of talent and capital to China. "Taiwan can strengthen its competitive edge only by stepping up its economic transition," said Tung, who is now a professor at National Chengchi University (NCCU).

On the issue of international trade, Tung and Hu said the incoming administration should start with Taiwan's bid to join the U.S.-led Trans Pacific Partnership, as long as China does not strongly oppose the idea.

The new government will have to maintain friendly relations with China and try not to take any provocative actions, Tung said.

Tung said Taiwan's efforts to participate in the China-initiated Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will be more difficult politically, as it will require China's "full support."

Hu, meanwhile, suggested that the new government consider joining China's "One Belt, One Road" initiative, as Taiwan is not strong to conduct trade and diplomacy on its own in Central Asia.

Another NCCU professor, Yin Nai-ping, suggested that the incoming government first address the problem of stagnant cross-strait economic relations if it wants to boost Taiwan's weak economy.

The people have been acutely feeling the economic decline, Yin said, adding that the new and outgoing administrations should set up a cross-party task force to handle the economic stagnation during the transitional period.

Taiwan has not yet jumped on the bandwagon of regional economic integration, therefore, improved cross-strait ties are key to a breakthrough in Taiwan's trade and economic growth, he said.

Yin said Taiwan's Legislature should speedily pass a bill on oversight of cross-strait agreements then push for the country's participation in the RCEP to gain an edge in international trade.

Updated : 2021-06-13 18:12 GMT+08:00