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June 27, 2017

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Chen can lead Taiwan to recovery: president

President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday stressed to local business heavyweights that he believes Premier Sean Chen can guide Taiwan along the road to economic recovery.

Following a failed but conversation-starting bid by the major opposition party to topple the Cabinet, the premier promised to deliver "concrete" results within three months or step down. Pundits are speculating that the premier-president relationship is growing strained, and that the premier is eyeing a resignation date of Christmas Day.

Ma said yesterday that he is lined up squarely behind the premier.

Chen is leading the Cabinet and Taiwan through challenging straits, said Ma yesterday at the Third Wednesday Club (三三會), Taiwan's largest business community.

Chen is trying to take concrete actions to improve the economy, said Ma, who added that the premier has his support.

"I believe that Chen can — step by step — guide Taiwan along the road to recovery," said Ma.

Meanwhile at a separate venue, Chen was also fielding questions about his relationship with the president.

Asked if it's true "that out of any president since 1949, Ma is the least respectful of his premier," Chen said that he "has never thought through the comparison."

Chen told local media that he does not know how to define "least respectful."

But while he and Ma do not agree on every single issue, they do share a mutual understanding of each other's personalities. There are no psychological barriers in their communication, said Chen.

First Visit

Ma yesterday delivered the keynote address in what was his first visit to a Third Wednesday Club luncheon since 2008.

His decision to go during Taiwan's economic downturn may be a gambit to draw investment and other support for his administration's package of "economy power-up" policies.

To the audience yesterday, Ma focused on two of the four "government directions" he first announced in his National Day address.

The government is striving to revitalize the job market by lowering investment barriers, as well as to restructure Taiwan's industry environment to boost salaries, he said.

Over the next three years, the government plans to restructure local industry by investing to the tune of NT$100 billion. His administration is also set to create some 10,000 jobs in new industries, he said.

Ma said that Taiwan's machinery sector is highly competitive at the global level. Over the last three years, sector growth has averaged 29 percent a year. By 2013, output value is expected to surpass NT$1 trillion, he said.

Chiang Pin-kung Takes Chair

Also yesterday, Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) stepped up to replace Jeffrey Koo, Sr. (辜濂松) as chairman of the Third Wednesday Club.

Chiang said yesterday that the local business community is already reaping fruits from the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA).

Once Taiwan completes follow-up ECFA talks, the country is poised to become the best investment grounds for Japanese business interests seeking to enter the mainland market, according to Chiang.

Chiang is a former chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation and current vice chairman of the Kuomintang.

He and Koo, the chairman of Chinatrust Commercial Bank, co-founded the Third Wednesday Club in 1999.

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