2014年3月27日 星期四

For Taiwan's Embattled President, Awkward Similarities With Ukraine's Ousted Leader 《彭博商業周刊》關於 #服貿 的看法

For Taiwan's Embattled President, Awkward Similarities With Ukraine's Ousted Leader

By Bruce Einhorn

After the events in Ukraine over the past month, the news from Taiwan feels eerily familiar. The turmoil takes place in a small country that has spent years living uncomfortably in the shadow of a major power—one with ambitions to recover territory lost during a humiliating period of weakness. The small country has a weak economy, and the government decides to push through a controversial deal to tie the small country’s prospects closer to its powerful neighbor. That move sparks outrage against the unpopular president, who has already faced criticism after the jailing of a popular opposition leader on corruption charges. The protests grow, turning violent as the embattled president orders security forces to break up the demonstrations.

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou is not former Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych—Ma, for one, doesn’t have an opulent home with seven limos, a private zoo, and a life-size galleon on a man-made lake—but as political unrest grows in Taiwan, the similarities between the two are striking. Just as Russians considered Crimea to be territory unjustly separated from Mother Russia, the Chinese government has insisted since the days of Mao Zedong that Taiwan is an inseparable part of the People’s Republic.

Both the Ukrainian and Taiwanese economies have suffered from disappointing growth, especially compared with more dynamic neighbors, and just as Yanukovych wanted to cement closer ties with Russia, Ma has been promoting a deal to liberalize trade and services with China. Yanukovych jailed former Premier Yulia Tymoshenko for a seven-year term, while Ma’s predecessor, former President Chen Shui-bian, is serving a 20-year sentence after being convicted on corruption charges in 2009.

Now the Taiwanese leader is quelling a student-led revolt against his attempt to ram through the legislature the services trade pact signed with the mainland last year. While lawmakers have dragged their feet on approving the agreement, Ma has called it a vital step in his efforts to revitalize the Taiwanese economy, which last year grew 2.95 percent, down from 3.85 percent in 2012. The deal would open banking, brokerages, e-commerce, and other sectors of the Taiwanese economy to investment from the mainland.

Critics say Ma’s government has reneged on a promise to do a line-by-line review of the agreement. The president isn’t compromising, and in the early hours of Monday riot police fired water cannons at protesters to clear them from the building in Taipei that is the headquarters for the cabinet. Police arrested about 60 people, Bloomberg News reports, and a total of 110 people—demonstrators and police officers—were injured. But the students still are occupying the legislature.

Fortunately for Ma, the Taiwanese economy isn’t as bad as Ukraine’s. Taiwan’s unemployment rate was just above 4 percent in February, down from about 6 percent in mid-2009. The picture for the economy this year is looking slightly better than it did at the end of 2013: Last month, the government raised its forecast for growth in 2014 to 2.82 percent, compared with an earlier forecast of 2.59 percent, and the government expects exports to increase 3.33 percent, better than the earlier forecast of 3.07 percent.

Still, even if Ma manages to quell the student-led revolt, the economic problems keep mounting. The government’s debt level has been expanding from 24.1 percent of GDP in early 2000s to 35.8 percent last year, according to a March 11 report from Bank of America (BAC) Merrill Lynch. That’s manageable compared withthe debt levels in other Asian countries, but “Taiwan’s pace of recent expansion, 40.6% debt limit, below-trend GDP growth and an aging population continue to cause growing concern about its fiscal condition,” wrote the bank’s Marcella Chow, who warns that total tax revenue as a percentage of GDP has dropped from about 17 percent in the 1990s to 12.6 percent last year. Moreover, according to Chow, “the government may encounter further tax revenue shortages with the tax burden growing at an even weaker pace.”

The weak economy is one reason Ma says Taiwan must move ahead with the China trade deal, despite the objections of the protesters. “Regional economic integration is an unstoppable global trend,” he said in a televised briefing. “The government can’t accept anyone impeding its ability to function by barging in and charging its buildings.”

With the occupation of the cabinet headquarters over, Ma seems to have the upper hand for now. But Yanukovych probably thought he was in control, too.
Students protesting against a China-Taiwan trade pact clash with riot police in Taipei, Taiwan, on March 24

台灣總統馬英九和烏克蘭前任總統Viktor Yanukovych並不同。舉例而言,馬總統並未擁有奢華住家,其中還具備七輛大型豪華轎車、一個私人動物園以及一個停放一比一製作西班牙大帆船的人工湖。但當政治騷亂在台灣持續發酵,他們之間的相似處也變得引人注目。就像俄國人認為克里米亞國土和祖國俄羅斯分裂並不公正,大陸政府自毛澤東時代以來即堅持台灣為中華人民共和國不可分割的一部份。

烏克蘭和台灣經濟同樣成長低迷,尤其在與經濟活絡的鄰國比較時更加明顯。而當Yanukovych企圖加強與俄國的緊密聯繫,馬總統則希望推動一項開放與大陸服務貿易交流的協議。Yanukovych將前任總理Yulia Tymoshenko判處七年徒刑,而馬總統的前任總統,目前於獄中服刑的陳水扁先生,則於2009年以貪汙罪起訴,判刑20年。


對馬總統而言值得慶幸的是,臺灣的經濟並未和烏克蘭一樣糟。臺灣2009年中旬的失業率大約為6 %,據二月份統計已經降低,僅稍高於4%。今年的經濟前景預估將比去年年底有更好的表現:就在上個月,臺灣政府將對今年經濟成長率的預測,由之前的2.59%上修至2.82%;出口則可望增加3.33%,高於之前預測的3.07%。

然而,即使馬總統真的成功平息這場學運,經濟問題仍在持續增加。根據美國銀行/美林證券(註)今年3/11的一項報告指出,台灣政府的負債水平在21世紀初占GDP 24.1%,去年已上升至35.8%。和其他亞洲國家相比,這樣的負債水平仍算是可以應付的。但"台灣近來經濟成長步伐、40.6%的債務上限、低於趨勢水準的GDP成長和人口老化都將持續引發對其財務狀況的擔憂",美國銀行的Marcella Chow寫道。他同時也提出警告,台灣的稅收總額占GDP百分比已由90年代的17%,降至去年的12.6%。此外,據他所言,"隨著國家稅負成長腳步更加緩慢,台灣政府可能會遭遇進一步的稅收短缺"。



美林證券(Merrill Lynch)是世界最大的證券零售商和投資銀行之一,總部位於美國紐約市。目前,美林集團在世界超過40個國家經營,為個人、機構投資者和政府客戶提供多元化的金融服務:除了傳統的投資銀行和經紀業務外,還包括共同基金、保險、信託、年金和清算服務。作為世界的最大的金融管理諮詢公司之一,它在財務世界裡佔有一席之地。2008年9月14日,美國銀行與美林達成協議,將以約440億美元收購後者。
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本文來自Bloomberg Businessweek 彭博商業周刊
文章連結 http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-03-24/for-taiwans-embattled-president-awkward-similarities-with-ukraines-ousted-leader
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