By Elizabeth Hsu and Y.F. Low CNA staff writers
Kuomintang (KMT) presidential candidate and Chairman Eric Chu (朱立倫) has pledged to "turn Taiwan around" via three strategies -- raising the minimum wage, narrowing the rich-poor gap, and achieving consensus on efforts to strive for Taiwan's international space, if he wins the Jan. 16 election.
Chu promised to raise the minimum wage from the current NT$20,008 (US$606) to NT$30,000 per month within four years, narrow the rich-poor gap by raising taxes on the wealthy, and pump up economic growth through wage hikes and seeking cooperation and a win-win situation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Also, Chu said that if elected, he will use a "three bows, four arrows" strategy to develop Taiwan's economy.
The first bow is reinforcing Taiwan's technological strength; the second is upgrading Taiwan's industrial sector to an Industry 4.0 level through the use of big data; and the third is building Taiwan into a free economy.
The four arrows are: using self-owned brands to establish a totally independent supply chain; extending import substitutes to upstream sections of the supply chain; securing the positions of suppliers in downstream markets; and entering differentiated product markets, he said.
On cross-strait policy, Chu said the "1992 consensus" adhered to by the KMT is "one China, two interpretations." Based on the Republic of China Constitution, "one China" refers to "the Republic of China," he said.
He stressed that the "1992 consensus" is a very important foundation for cross-strait relations and he criticized his main opponent -- Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party -- for being ambivalent at best on the issue.
Chu said that if elected, he would establish a mechanism to monitor cross-strait agreements to ensure that affairs between the two sides are conducted openly, transparently and fairly.
Also, he said he would institutionalize and normalize the mechanism for summit talks between leaders of the two sides after the first meeting of this kind took place in Singapore on November 7 between Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平).
On defense policy, Chu proposed establishing an all-volunteer military force and further downsizing the number of personnel from 215,000 to 180,000.
Taiwan's military buildup in the future should focus on ballistic missiles, electronic warfare and anti-ship capabilities, he said.
Chu also pledged to expand his public childcare policy from New Taipei to every place in Taiwan.
At present, there are 40 public childcare centers in New Taipei, more than the total number in country's other five municipalities, according to Chu.
If elected, Chu said, he will establish public childcare centers throughout Taiwan by integrating government and private resources.
Chu said he will also expand a free-meal program for needy children, from New Taipei to all other areas of Taiwan. In New Taipei, young people from disadvantaged families can obtain free boxed meals at convenience stores under a program initiated by the city government, he noted.
Under the program, schools and social workers can also be informed by the stores about children in need, Chu said.
Chu also pledged to convert idle public spaces into venues for after-school classes or offices to help young people set up their own businesses.
On the issue of long-term care, Chu said the KMT is proposing to allocate a budget of NT$110 billion (US$3.3 billion) to offer monthly subsidies of NT$10,000 to NT$11,000 to the 820,000 people in need of long-term care.
If elected, Chu said, he will act immediately on pension reforms, putting forward goals and ways of achieving them "within one year of taking office."
In terms of education, Chu said that in addition to his pledge to remove interest on student loans, he will also seek to strengthen technical vocational education.
Chu said he will put forward a five-year, NT$1.8 billion program to improve facilities at high schools and technical vocational schools, and provide professional vocational training courses that would allow students to earn professional certification.
He said he will also open the doors for more foreign students to study at Taiwan's universities.
His other major proposal was to address the food safety issue in Taiwan by setting up a product traceability system, establishing an online database of safe foods and pushing for the revision of regulations governing food safety.