Ma faces stiff economic challenge from EU crisis

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 16 January, 2012, 12:00am


Ma Ying-jeou faces a stiff challenge in shaping Taiwan's economy as the impact of the European debt crisis becomes increasingly apparent, the media said.

An editorial in the China Times yesterday said Ma's race with Dr Tsai Ing-wen was tougher than expected because his performance over the past four years had not been up to expectations. It also said the DPP lost the election because Taiwanese people wanted closer economic ties with the mainland and because the majority of people recognised the 1992 consensus with the mainland.

But it said the Ma administration should learn lessons from the past four years as it had failed to deliver major policy initiatives.

'Under the existing international circumstances, the next four years will be more challenging, and the steps of reform should not be stopped,' the editorial said. 'Ma should take drastic action to rejuvenate Taiwan, defend the Republic of China and promote unity among the pan-blue camp.'

The United Daily News said the situation facing Taiwan was not optimistic, and that Ma should narrow the income gap and listen to the opinions of the opposition.

The Liberty Times, a pro-green paper, said Ma should be made aware that nearly half of the people were suspicious of him, particularly of his pro-Beijing stance that it said was causing Taiwan to lose its identity.

A report in the newspaper said the mainland was the real winner in the elections as Beijing could interfere in Taiwan's affairs through economic deals signed with Ma's administration, which would lead to Taiwan being 'swallowed up'.

It also said the DPP should learn a lesson from its failure, and the paper predicted that Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, a former president of the Executive Yuan, and Su Tseng-chang, a former premier, would lead the party.

The Taipei Times, another pro-green paper, said Ma's re-election did not necessarily mean cross-strait ties would remain stable, as Beijing might increase pressure on Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union welcomed Ma's re-election.

'Cross-strait peace, stability and improved relations, in an environment free from intimidation, are of profound importance to the United States,' the White House said.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she welcomed improvements in cross-strait relations made over the past four years.

Mainland state media were reportedly positively on the outcome. Xinhua said the results showed Taiwanese people supported closer ties.

'The victory of Ma and the Kuomintang may represent a new opportunity for the development of cross-strait relations,' the agency said.

Discussions by mainland internet users remained vibrant. Some microbloggers said they were touched by the speech Tsai made after her defeat, particularly about the need for opposition voices and parties.

'The mainland is too harmonious - we dare not have opposition voices,' joked one blogger.

Ma Yong, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the election would have a significant impact on the mainland.