Vice President Wu Den-yih, right, shakes hands with Want Want chairman Tsai Eng-meng at the Peace and Prosperity Forum held at Taipei's Grand Hotel on Aug. 8. (Photo/Chen Hsin-han)
Wu Den-yih, Taiwan's vice president and former premier, admitted Thursday that there was a good deal of public opposition to the signing of the cross-strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement back in 2010, even more than there has been to the recently signed General Agreement on Trade in Services. He said however that the government thanks both the people who have supported or who oppose the agreement.
Wu was speaking at the annual Peace and Prosperity Forum held by our sister paper Want Daily in Taipei, where officials put forward the view that the cross-strait General Agreement on Trade in Service will bring more profits to the citizens of Taiwan.
Those who supported the ECFA gave the government greater confidence to proceed with signing the agreement, Wu said, while those who opposed the pact also reminded the government that the purpose of the deal was to improve the livelihoods of the people of Taiwan.
Wu said the Ma Ying-jeou administration has protected the interests of Taiwanese workers by not agreeing to allow blue-collar workers from mainland China to work in Taiwan. Wu also said that only 398 investment cases from mainland China have been approved by the government since the signing of the pact, indicating that a strict screening process remains in place.
Likewise, only about 216 white-collars workers from China have been given permission to work in Taiwan since the deal was signed. Wu said these individuals have mostly served as managers and supervisors and have paid taxes like regular Taiwanese citizens and have contributed to the nation's economy. Furthermore, Wu said Chinese companies entering Taiwan have created 6,771 job opportunities for local staff.
Three years after the ECFA was signed, Wu said Taiwan's farmers and fishermen had made US$130 billion through selling produce and seafood to China, while in the other direction China has made only about US$30 billion through selling traditional herbal medicine to Taiwan. This shows that the general public in Taiwan have been the real winners of increased cross-strait exchanges, Wu said.
Chang Hsien-yao, deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, said that the signing of the General Agreement on Trade in Service will make Taiwan and mainland China the most stable market in the world. Chang also said that investment from mainland China will only help Taiwan become more competitive. In addition, Chang also believes that the latest pact will help Taiwan toward membership of the US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the ASEAN-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Wu Den-yih 吳敦義
Chang Hsien-yao 張顯耀