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August 20, 2017

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President Chen lacks economic vision: Lien

President Chen has his priorities for Taiwan all wrong and has failed to recognize that what the island's people care most about is the economy, said Kuomintang (KMT) chairman and 2004 presidential candidate Lien Chan on Monday in Washington D.C.

"President Chen may have a political vision, but he does not have an economic vision ... he may have a political roadmap, but he does not have an economic roadmap," said Lien, at a lunch sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and the Heritage Foundation at the city's opulent Four Seasons Hotel.

As a consequence, "the Chen administration has not been able to show firm leadership, clear priorities and comprehensive planning in the face of manifold economic problems," he said.

Lien, on a hectic two-day visit to the U.S. capital, pledged to put the smile back on the faces of Taiwan's people by further "opening" the island's economy to the world.

Reading his prepared speech, Lien blamed President Chen for Taiwan's economic woes and accused him of breaking his election promise to uphold the so-called "four noes," of not declaring Taiwan independence, not changing the country's name, not pushing to include the "two-states theory" into the constitution and to not hold a referendum on the issue of Taiwan independence.

"Frankly, I don't think the majority of people on Taiwan are that interested in any of these four issues," he said. Neither does focusing on these issues help the island's economy or contribute to the maintenance of cross-strait peace, he added.

While Lien expressed the hope that "negative" presidential campaigns could be avoided, he did not hold back in his criticism of the Chen administration and of what he believes is the government's penchant for injecting political maneuvering into its every move.

"Much of Taiwan's economic decline and the people's sufferings can be attributed to this sort of misplaced priority and resource misallocation," said Lien.

By "opening up" Taiwan and focusing on developing the island as an operational and logistics center for the Asia-Pacific region, the KMT aims to free Taiwan from its "self-imposed isolation," according to Lien.

By allowing "high-caliber labor" to move freely in and out of Taiwan, ensuring a free flow of the factors of production and boosting the island's domestic tourism and service sectors, Taiwan's economy can be reinvigorated and new employment created, noted Lien. "If we follow this roadmap, I believe Taiwan's economy will take a giant step ahead and people will smile often," he said.

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In an apparent bid to appeal to all sectors of society and shake off the KMT's image as a "mainlander" party, Lien stressed, "there should be no new ideology, no new 'political correctness.' We must learn to respect one another, to be more tolerant of one another," he said.

Another case of misplaced priorities by the Chen administration, according to Lien, is the government's approach to cross-strait relations. By intensifying the political rhetoric, relations across the Taiwan Strait have become more and more hostile, he said. The government "is devoting most of its energies not to relieving the Taiwan people of their real-life difficulties, but to creating more unsolvable problems."

Lien promised to take a more "pragmatic" approach to the relationship with mainland China, but stressed that there is "no need to rush history" on issues relating to the island's sovereignty that "are best left for the future generations to decide, since they now create more problems than they solve."

In the meantime, Taiwan and mainland China could pursue "parallel development," he noted, until the time is right to address whether Taiwan should unify with the mainland or seek independence.

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