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    Taiwan China Trade Pact Only Economic Arrangement


    by NTDTelevision

    Taiwan is set to sign a landmark trade agreement with mainland China. But the Taiwanese president says the deal is merely an economic arrangement, not a step to unification with the Mainland.

    Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou said on Tuesday the island would move quickly to start talks on free trade agreements with other countries. It comes as he seeks to avoid what he sees as a quote, "fatal" isolation for the 390-billion dollar economy.

    Ma told foreign journalists in Taipei that a controversial free-trade deal with China, due to be signed by June, is the first step to making sure Taiwan remains a major economy in East Asia.

    China and Taiwan are expected to sign the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, or ECFA, that would bring the political rivals closer. It would also open the diplomatically isolated island's economy to trade pacts around the world.

    [Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwanese President]: (English)
    "We should not let our diplomatic isolation become economic isolation. So politically, I seek rapprochement with Mainland so that economically, we could have a closer ties with them, giving us the needed benefit. On the other hand, we will also develop similar relations with our major trading partners."

    However, the plan has run into stiff opposition at home amid concerns that it will flood Taiwan with cheap Mainland goods. There are also concerns the deal could be used by Beijing to pursue reuniting Taiwan with the Mainland.


    [Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwanese President]: (English)
    "So, this is not a first step to an ultimate unification because it has nothing to do with unification, but it has more to do with maintaining the status quo and increasing Taiwan's national competitiveness."


    Ma said the ECFA deal is part of his policy of engagement, but he would not compromise Taiwan's sovereignty, and stressed Taiwan can't have globalization without the Chinese mainland.