President Lee Teng-hui stated today that although Asia has suffered from a recession in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, the Republic of China's economic performance has remained laudable, which merits affirmation. He made the remarks when meeting with Caspar W. Weinberger, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and currently Chairman of the Forbes magazine.
The President told his guest that he is more optimistic than the International Monetary Fund, as far as predictions for the ROC's economic growth for this year and the next are concerned. The ROC's economic fundamentals are very sound and its government has implemented a timely package to expand domestic demand through increases in government spending that will boost economic growth, he said.
Several times during the meeting, Mr. Weinberger expressed his esteem and admiration for the ROC's outstanding political and economic achievements, particularly its ability to weather the Asian financial crisis.
On the ROC's ability to stand the bitter test of the financial storm, the President attributed it to the low foreign debts in both public and private sectors, and to the transparency of their decision-making process. He said that as a result of democratization, there is no crony capitalism and everything works systemically in this country. The President further expressed his firm confidence in this country's economic prospects.
A renowned U.S. economic and financial bimonthly with a circulation of 755,000, Forbes was once rated among the top five magazines in the United States.
Defense Secretary in the Reagan Administration and Chairman of the USA-ROC Economic Council between 1991 and 1994, Mr. Weinberger has been a faithful supporter of the ROC. During the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1996, he published articles appealing to the U.S. government not to keep its hands off Peking's saber rattling against Taiwan.
Accompanied by Chen Chien-jen, Director-General of the Government Information Office, Mr. Weinberger met with President Lee at the Presidential Office this afternoon. Secretary-General Ding Mou-shih of the National Security Council and Su Chi, Deputy Secretary-General to the President, were also present.