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Opposition boycotts regional meeting for national conference

TAIPEI--A two-day regional meeting held to lay the groundwork for a planned national conference on trade and economic issues continued yesterday, although no one from the opposition parties or people opposed to a cross-Taiwan Strait trade-in-services pact showed up.

Hsu Sheng-hsiung, chairman of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, and National Taiwan University President Yang Pan-chry jointly presided over the second day's agenda of the Northern Taiwan meeting, which was attended by politicians and academics, as well as by representatives of business and civic groups.

Addressing the absence of representatives from the opposition parties, Kuan Chung-ming, head of the Cabinet-level National Development Council that has been tasked with organizing the national conference in July, said that their absence was regrettable.

Kuan said that the opposition should have been present at the event, which he described as part of a national conference. He added that he will visit the parties if possible so that he can hear their opinions.

At Sunday's meeting in Taipei, Yang suggested that Taiwan should search for its advantages to continue and maintain its economic development. In this way, Taiwan “will not be left behind so far that it has no chance to catch up,” he said, referring to what Taiwan should do in the face of globalization and regional economic integration.

The planned national trade and economic conference is designed to focus on two themes — “Taiwan's economic development strategies under the trend of globalization” and “Taiwan's bid to join regional economic and trade integration and its cross-Taiwan Strait economic and trade strategies.”

A day earlier, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research President David Hong pointed out that the method of using exports to push for Taiwan's economic growth has become outdated.

The government should be more aggressive in pushing the various industrial sectors to seek upgrades or transformation. While doing so, it should also establish a mechanism aimed at helping globalization-affected industries to survive, otherwise its moves to further open Taiwan's economic doors will trigger industrial crises, Hong warned.

During the Sunday meeting, the participants continued to spell out their opinions on issues covering the government's ambitious free economic pilot zone program, the spirit of responsible politics, vocational education, labor rights protection, a proposal for letting more Chinese students study in Taiwan and the problem of economic and trade talent drainage.

National Taiwan University Professor of Economics Lin Chien-fu suggested the opening of doors to Chinese students, saying that increased numbers of Chinese students in Taiwan could help improve local competitiveness.

If the Chinese students learn more about Taiwan, they can help the development of cross-strait ties, Lin said.

Meanwhile, the National Development Council released earlier in the day a report that contains “common opinions” of participants of the Northern Taiwan meeting compiled by the council.

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