by Matthew Strong
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – When talks take place about the import of pork from the United States treated with ractopamine, the Taiwan side will defend the country’s interest as much as possible, Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen said Friday.
As Taiwan seeks to join new regional trade organizations, pressure from the US is likely to mount on the country to follow up its decision to allow ractopamine-treated beef with an opening up to pork imports.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s emphasis to allow the beef imports right at the start of his second term in office in 2012 has been seen as an important factor in his tumbling popularity ratings shortly afterward.
It was still too early now to say whether Taiwan needed to allow the import of US pork containing ractopamine residues, Tsai said Friday, but during the necessary talks, Taiwan’s largest possible interest had to be protected, and there was no doubt about that.
Reacting to Ma’s final New Year address in office, she rejected his accusations that a DPP government would conduct a brash foreign policy which would likely cause trouble for relations with China. The suggestion was merely an accusation from the ruling Kuomintang, Tsai said, adding she had never said her foreign policy would endanger cross-straits issues.
Foreign policy was to be conducted in the interests of all the people, regardless of party affiliation, with any government seeking to expand Taiwan’s international space, Tsai said.
Both camps in Taiwan politics approved of the country joining the Trans Pacific Partnership, she said. The government would defend food safety and the interests of pig farmers, Tsai said.
The DPP candidate has been widely tipped to win the January 16 presidential election, while her party might also for the first time gain a majority in the legislative election scheduled for the same day.