Taiwan holds final TV debate for election

Updated: 2011-12-17 21:57


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TAIPEI - The last televised debate among three candidates for the upcoming Taiwan leader election was held Saturday in Taipei, with last year's signed cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) highlighted in the debate before the January 14 voting date.

The candidates -- Ma Ying-jeou, chairman of Taiwan's ruling Kuomintang (KMT) party, Tsai Ing-wen who represents the island's major opposition Democratic Progressive Party, and People First Party (PFP) chairman James Soong - stated their political views and debated with each other.

Both Ma and Soong affirmed the ECFA's role in promoting cross-Straits trade.

Ma said the ECFA has given Taiwan opportunities to compete with the Republic of Korea (ROK) and other Asian economies. Both Taiwan and the ROK were labeled as members of "Four Asian dragons" in the 1990s for their promising performance in economic growth.

Ma said the accusation against him that signing the ECFA was "selling Taiwan to China" was groundless. He criticized Tsai's cross-Straits policy and the so-called "Taiwan Consensus" as "vague".

Soong of the PFP said that the mainland and Taiwan should not retrogress after signing the ECFA, and they should create better opportunities for each other under shared prosperity. However, he said the ECFA is not a "panacea" as there are more concrete problems to solve.

On the contrast, Tsai continued to deny the "1992 Consensus" and avoided clarifying details of the "Taiwan consensus."

In November 1992, the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation reached the consensus that each of the two organizations verbally acknowledges that "both sides of the Taiwan Straits adhere to the one-China principle." The agreement has since been serving as a significant basis for cross-Straits negotiations and peaceful development.

The three candidates also expressed their own views on topics regarding judicial reform, education, employment, housing, agriculture, social security, financing, health care and nuclear power.

The televised debate was held by the Taiwan Public Television Service and other local media. The previous two debates were held on December 3 and December 10 respectively, with the latter debate attended by candidates competing for the island's deputy leader position.

Saturday also marks the beginning of the election campaign, according to an announcement Friday by the island's authority in charge of the election.