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U.S. expert: ROC president under pressure at home

2012/05/15 21:33:45

Washington, May 14 (CNA) A U.S. expert in Taiwan affairs said Monday that Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou is struggling with complaints from the public and pressure from the people for him to solve problems with the approach of the May 20 start of his second term.

Richard Bush, director of the Brookings Institution's Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, said Ma has been facing criticism over many issues, ranging from his proposal to sign a conditional peace agreement with China in the next 10 years, to controversy over imports of U.S. beef containing residue of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.

The unprecedented peace deal that Ma brought up last year drew immediate attacks and criticism of the president, Bush said in a Brookings Institution conference in Washington themed "Taiwan's Maturing Democracy."

Bush, who has served as chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan, which represents American interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties, will be part of a U.S. delegation that will attend Ma's May 20 inauguration.

In addition, he went on, a "one country, two areas" concept pitched by Wu Poh-hsiung, an honorary chairman of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT), during a visit to China in March has also sparked many negative comments. Ma also doubles as KMT chairman.

According to Bush, the beef issue and public complaints over some of his public policies, including raising fuel and electricity prices, mean that Ma will have to resolve these problems as soon as he starts serving his second term.

Also at the conference, Shelley Rigger, a professor of political science at Davidson College in North Carolina, said that Taiwan, Japan and the Korean peninsula are all "abnormal" countries, due to their unique political situations.

In spite of this, she went on, economic issues are of the greatest concern to all these countries.

Meanwhile, Ho Szu-yin, a professor at Taiwan's National Chengchi University, who was also invited to attend the conference, expressed concern about Taiwan's future economic development.

Ho said that while the Taiwanese people are unhappy about increased utility rates and imports of controversial U.S. beef, businesses are lagging behind their rivals in South Korea, a situation made worse by Seoul's efforts to seek free trade agreements with other countries in the region that are also Taiwan's markets.

(By Lin Shu-yuan and Elizabeth Hsu)