Tsai re­as­sures Taitung farm­ers of sta­tus quo main­te­nance

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party ( DPP) Chair­woman and 2016 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Tsai Ing­wen tried to as­sure lo­cal farm­ers in Eastern Tai­wan that a pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal trans­fer of power next year would not af­fect ship­ments of agri­cul­tural pro­duce to China. She also urged Com­mu­nist China to stay out of Tai­wan’s elec­tions.

Tsai made the state­ments while on a cam­paign stop that has taken her to the eastern county of Taitung for the past two days. She was joined by lo­cal leg­is­la­tors, county coun­cilors and the Beinan town­ship leader in an agri­cul­tural fo­rum in­volv­ing lo­cal pi­ta­haya fruit farm­ers. The DPP chair- woman took to the fields her­self, wear­ing gloves and crouch­ing in the or­chards to harvest the fruit, at­tempt­ing to get a feel of the oc­cu­pa­tional con­di­tions of lo­cal farm­ers. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal of­fi­cials, ap­prox­i­mately 8,000 tons of pineap­ples and sugar ap­ples are ex­ported from Taitung to the main­land an­nu­ally.

Hung Chung- kai, a county coun­cil­man of Taitung said fruit farm­ers in­clud­ing those of pineap­ples, sugar ap­ples and pi­ta­haya are wor­ried that if poli­cies to­ward China were to change, it would have dele­te­ri­ous ef­fects on their liveli­hoods. Farm­ers in the re­gion were re­minded of cir­cu­lated ru­mors in 2012 that claimed that main­land China would stop im­port­ing fruit from Tai­wan should Tsai as­sume the pres­i­dency.

Beinan Town­ship leader Hsu Wen-hsien also re­called that three months be­fore elec­tion day in 2012, Chi­nese tourists had stopped ar­riv­ing at the re­gion’s renown hot spring re­sorts in Zhiben. He said that if Tsai were elected, China would or­der an im­me­di­ate three­month halt in group tours to Tai­wan for “rene­go­ti­a­tion” and if those talks failed, would call off tours for an ad­di­tional three months.

In re­sponse, Tsai em­pha­sized that in both state­ments abroad and in Tai­wan, the main­te­nance of the cur­rent sta­tus quo was the most im­por­tant as­pect in Tai­wan’s in­ter­na­tional diplo­macy. She said that by main­tain­ing the sta­tus quo, other coun­tries would rec­og­nize that Tai­wan is a sta­ble re­gion and that ev­ery­body could sit down for talks.

She added that China’s Tai­wan Af­fairs Of­fice (TAO) in the past has stated that it would not in­ter­fere in Tai­wan’s elec­tions. Tsai said she hoped the TAO would un­der­score its un­der­stand­ing that Tai­wan’s demo­cratic so­ci­ety sees pos­si­ble po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tions as nor­mal, and that such changes do not nec­es­sar­ily amount to changes in ex­ist­ing pol­icy. She said that if China shifted its pol­icy to­ward Tai­wan based on a po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion on the is­land, it would con­sti­tute in­ter­fer­ence in the is­land’s do­mes­tic pol­i­tics.

Tsai stated she was con­cerned with the plight of farm­ers, and in­di­cated that the most im­por­tant is­sue per­tained to find­ing more av­enues to in­crease prod­uct com­pet­i­tive­ness, in­clud­ing agri­cul­tural tech­niques, food safety and other means. The DPP leader said that the gov­ern­ment needed to step up its ef­forts in pro­mot­ing sales to other mar­kets, with­out just re­ly­ing on one des­ti­na­tion.

Cam­paign of­fi­cials urged farm­ers not to buy into China’s tac­tics, say­ing the gov­ern­ment pol­icy in­cluded pur­su­ing and in­creas­ing mar­ket share in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries and re­gions in­clud­ing Ja­pan, Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore.

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