Boao, Hainan Province April 9 (CNA) A former vice president of the World Bank wanted in Taiwan as a defector indicated his support Wednesday for Taiwan's pursuit of freer trade for the sake of growth.
Justin Yifu Lin said he appreciated the passion and organizational skills of the Taiwanese students protesting against the trade-in-services pact with China, but suggested that people who genuinely care about Taiwan should pay careful attention to what is good for the country's economy. He was speaking during a question-and-answer session at the Boao Forum for Asia in China.
Speaking to reporters after the session, Lin said that "every bit of consideration should be given to Taiwan's economic development and any discussions that fail to address this are pointless."
Lin defected from Taiwan to China as an army officer nearly 35 years ago.
The economist said that when he arrived in China in 1979, Taiwan boasted a bigger trade volume than China, earning it esteem around the world. Taiwan's total external trade volume stood at US$23.2 billion versus China's US$20.8 billion in 1978, Lin noted.
Lin, a professor at Peking University's National School of Development, attributed the sway China has held in recent years to its vibrant economy.
Noting that the pursuit of free trade is a global trend, Lin said Taiwan has lost many advantages it used to enjoy.
He also drew a comparison with South Korea, pointing out that it has come from behind both Taiwan and Japan to outstrip the two in economic growth, which he said is proof that Taiwan has not made good use of its advantages.
"Does Taiwan want an economy that has remained stagnant for 20 years just like Japan's?" Lin asked, noting that this sluggishness has resulted in the less active role Japan plays in East Asia and the rest of the world, he noted.
(By Eva Feng and Scully Hsiao)