Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou and the leader of the island’s main opposition party Sunday held their first televised debate on a proposed trade pact with mainland China.
Ma told Tsai Ing-wen, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), that Taiwan was obliged to form an alliance with its giant neighbour in order to compete with other countries in its region.
“Could you please tell me if Taiwan has any other option when the other countries in the Asian region are forming alliances with each other,” Ma said during a debate televised nationwide by the island’s public TV system.
Ma, head of the China-friendly Kuomintang party, warned that Taiwan could be marginalised without the pact, known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA), which he has said could be signed in June.
Tsai, whose DPP favours the island’s independence, said the pact could alarm South Korea and Japan and make Taiwan more dependent on China, which considers the island part of its territory.
“Whether or not Taiwan should sign the ECFA must also be considered from the Eastern Asia’s strategic perspective,” she said.
Taiwan and China are still technically at war although the island has governed itself since their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.