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June 29, 2017

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Taiwan should seize on China's rise: Siew

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Former Vice President Vincent Siew said Saturday that China's ascent is inevitable and Taiwan should try to take advantage of that rise as a stepping stone for development, rather than closing its doors and opposing anything involving Beijing.

In a keynote speech on the first day of the three-day National Conference on Economic and Trade Affairs, Siew said China, as the world's biggest trading nation, is emerging in a globalized world and that its ascent is inevitable and closely related to Taiwan's development.

The development of the world economy over the past 20 years has been affected by globalization and the onset of the knowledge economy, which have been far more responsible for Taiwan's sluggish economy than China's rise, Siew contended.

Globalization and the knowledge economy are both linked to widening income inequality, Siew said, and to address those challenges Taiwan needs to adjust its industrial structure and step up the opening of its economy to better connect it to global markets.

Siew suggested that to revitalize Taiwan's economy in the short term, the government should boost public spending on infrastructure despite its tight budget.

The former vice president also advocated pushing forward a plan to establish free economic pilot zones (FEPZs).

Unlike the controversial trade-in-services agreement with China that calls for a full opening of the service industry, Siew said the economic zone plan aims to relax regulations for developing high-end services on a trial basis.

He appealed to the public to think about the plan in a rational manner and urged all sectors of society to pay more attention to economics than to politics, saying that political parties should respect professional opinions when formulating economic policies.

Given Taiwan's strong industrial and talent-based competitiveness, it should boldly open up its markets, Siew added.

The conference, sponsored by the Executive Yuan, kicked off yesterday. The three-day conference, which is taking place at the Taipei International Convention Center, is being held in response to requests from the Sunflower Student Movement to summon a "civil constitutional governance conference."

Two separate subjects were deliberated yesterday: "Taiwan's economic development strategy in the globalization trend" and "Taiwan's participation in regional economic integration and cross-strait economic and trade strategies."

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