Stranded ties with the mainland is not good for Taiwan’s economic growth in 2017, observers said, calling for efforts to repair cross-Strait ties as soon as possible.
The current Taiwan administration has made cross-Strait relations highly complicated, inflicting risks for the island’s economic growth in the new year, said Lin Chin-yuan, an economics professor with the Tamkang University.
Mainland-Taiwan ties have reached an impasse since Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen took office in May. Tsai refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus that stresses the one-China principle. This has hampered cross-Strait communication.
The number of mainland visitors, which rose to about 4.4 million in 2015, declined remarkably by nearly 800,000 in 2016 — a heavy blow to the island’s tourism and agriculture industries.
“The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has given up the nearby mainland market and chosen to promote a ‘southbound policy,’ which is an absurd act in the history of economic development,” he said.
He said in doing so the DDP was “dropping the flowers from its hands to chase rainbows in the sky,” a saying synonymous with failure.
Unreasonable policies will only make the people suffer, and drag on economic development, he said.
The outbound Taiwan economy is highly dependent on exports. In 2016, its annual exports dropped to 280 billion U.S. dollars from the 285 billion U.S. dollars of 2015, due to reduced imports of the mainland.
The way out for Taiwan is to make its economy more open and tolerant rather than being caught in its own trap, said Micky M. C. Chen, president of the Management Institute in Taipei.
Chen suggested that the Taiwan authority expand export markets especially the mainland market, repair ties with the mainland as soon as possible, relax policies for mainland investment and advance cross-Strait industrial cooperation.
If the DPP administration continues to adopt polices that alienate or oppose the mainland, Taiwan’s development will lose momentum and vitality, Lin said.