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Taipei's office in London decries Economist report

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's representative office in the United Kingdom, in a letter to the editor published in The Economist, clarified some of the accusations raised in two recent articles published by the London-based weekly magazine.

In the letter published by the magazine on its website dated April 3, the office said some of the criticism made against President Ma Ying-jeou in two articles of the magazine on March 29, namely, “Manning the trade barriers” and “On the antlers of a dilemma,” was unfair.

The letter, written by Chen Kuo-min (陳國明), head of the press division of the Taipei representative office in the UK, stressed that over the six years of Ma's presidency, “his ambition has been unprecedented on the international stage and in cross-strait relations.”

“To suggest that the president's strategy is in any way quixotic, or that he is unwilling to accept its flaws, is unfair: it should be judged on the tremendous successes it has brought over the last six years and will continue to bring for the remainder of his term,” Chen said in the letter.

Regarding the ongoing row over a controversial cross-strait trade agreement, Chen defended the government's policy in pushing its passage in the Legislative Yuan, stressing that the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement will “create an estimated 12,000 new jobs, offer greater stability and further internationalize Taiwan.”

The deal is more favorable to Taiwan than to mainland China, as the number of commitments China is making to Taiwan outweighs commitments in the opposite direction by 80 to 64, according to Chen.

Chen stressed that the goals of implementing this agreement are to encourage regional economic integration, make Taiwan a more attractive prospect for regional trade agreements and to liberalize the economy.

The British magazine recently interviewed Ma at the Presidential Office in Taipei about his most recent travails, in particular the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by students opposed to the service trade pact his administration signed with Beijing last June.

Commenting on its interview with Ma, the magazine's Banyan column on March 29 said in the article entitled “On the antlers of a dilemma,” that Ma “remains as unwilling as any leader in Beijing to admit to any fundamental flaws in strategy.”

The protests against the trade pact were more than just “a little local difficulty” for Ma, the column said.

The title for the column is a reference to Ma's recent comment where he said that deer-antlers used in Chinese medicine are hair growing from the deer's ears.

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