TAIPEI (AFP) - President Ma Ying-jeou warned on Tuesday of damage to Taiwan's economy if the legislature does not pass controversial trade deals with China, which have stalled in the wake of mass protests.
His comments come as tensions remain high over increased Chinese influence on the island.
"I would like to voice my concern over related agreements with China still under deliberation in the legislature," said Ma, speaking at the opening ceremony of Computex - Asia's largest tech fair - in the capital Taipei.
The pacts are on hold after a service trade deal with Beijing sparked huge rallies and the three-week occupation of parliament last year, reflecting growing unease over Taiwan's warming ties with Beijing.
Ma said the passage of the agreements "should accelerate", particularly in the wake of a free trade deal signed between China and South Korea on Monday.
That agreement would impact Taiwan's traditional industries, including textiles, said Ma.
"It took them only three years (to reach the agreement). Look at our service trade agreement with the mainland, which is still lying in parliament," he said.
The pact is on ice as a concession to protesters, who said it had been passed in secret.
They demanded new measures guaranteeing transparency over future deals, but that oversight legislation is now the subject of intense political wrangling and has yet to be passed.
China still sees Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification by force if necessary. The self-ruled island split from China at the end of a civil war in 1949.
Since he became president in 2008, Ma's pro-Beijing Kuomintang party has led a rapprochement with China, with more than 20 trade deals and a tourism boom as mainland visitors flock to the island.
But many ordinary Taiwanese feel they have reaped little benefit from the trade pacts and worry about getting closer to Beijing.
The Kuomintang was trounced at local elections in November and faces a struggle in next year's presidential vote, with a stagnant economy and a string of food scandals adding to its woes.
Ma pointed to reports that Taiwan was lagging behind South Korea in its development.
"We... really have to work hard to try to face our predicament and do something substantial. Foreign trade is very important to Taiwan," he said.