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Taiwan needs free trade agreement with US to ward off China: Chen

Agence France Presse

Taiwan needs free trade agreement with US to ward off China: Chen

May 30, 2005

TAIPEI (AFP) - Taiwan desperately needs a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States to protect itself against rival China’s growing economic dominance, the island’s President Chen Shui-bian told a visiting US senator.

"China has been negotiating agreements with countries in Southeast Asia and Latin America in an attempt to marginalize Taiwan ... making Taiwan unable to breathe in the international community," Chen told US Senator John Rockefeller IV on Monday.

"Should that happen, not only would Taiwan’s economy and its national security be dampened, regional security would also be impacted negatively," Chen said during a meeting with the democrat from the US state of West Virginia.

He added that he hoped "the US Congress would take active steps to sign a free trade agreement with Taiwan, so that the world would not tilt towards China".

On a visit to Washington last year a delegation from the powerful American
Chamber of Commerce in Taipei insisted a free trade agreement with Taiwan would be premature, singling out pharmaceuticals, intellectual property rights protection and government procurement as areas where the island needed to improve before a trade pact would be appropriate.

Though they are governed separately, China considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.

Tensions have risen between Taiwan and Beijing, which has repeatedly tried to stifle the island’s global presence, since the pro-independence Chen was elected in 2000. He was re-elected last year, aggressively pushing Taiwan’s sovereignty.

 source: AFP