Fri, Jun 25, 2010 - Page 1 News List

ECFA talks wrap up at Grand Hotel

‘FAMILY’ MATTERS The ‘early harvest’ list contains 539 items from Taiwan and 267 from China, with Taiwan enjoying an about five-to-one ratio in export value

By Ko Shu-ling, Vincent Y. Chao and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

“Since we already made the offer, there is no such thing as asking it back,” he said. “We are a family. Please don’t worry.”

Zheng said they would “never change the policy toward Taiwanese compatriots,” adding that if there was anything they wanted in return, it would be to jointly “upgrade the economic competitiveness of the Chinese nation in the world.”

While the pact contains a termination article, Huang said it was a defensive mechanism “put aside for possible use in the future.” Should such a scenario arise, both sides would try to resolve the problem with negotiation before resorting to the final solution, he said.

Zheng was evasive about whether China would block other countries from signing free-trade agreements (FTA) with Taiwan after an ECFA is signed, saying the matter would be “properly addressed.”

Huang said he did not ask China to refrain from blocking other countries from FTAs with Taiwan during the negotiation process, but added he “knew in his heart” that both Taiwan and China have the right to sign FTAs with other WTO members and that Taiwan had the economic power to do so.

Outside the Grand Hotel where the meeting was held, fears that dozens of people would protest later proved unfounded.

Shortly after 10am, only one Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taipei City councilor candidate and an assistant had appeared.

Driving in a campaign vehicle, the pair were immediately met by police at the road entrance to the hotel and turned away, only to arrive again in a taxi that took them straight to the main gates of the luxury hotel.

The candidate, Tung Chung-yan (童仲彥), and an assistant from another DPP candidate’s campaign office attempted to persuade police that they were going to the hotel to buy a cup of coffee.

“Why can’t we head to the hotel? Is [Taiwan] under martial law? Why are we prevented from going up the mountain?” Tung asked.

Joining their protest shortly after were four members of the pro-independence Taiwan Nation campaign who held an impromptu press conference at the gates to the hotel after being told by police that they wouldn’t be able to enter the venue.

Taiwan Nation chairman Peter Wang (王獻極) said the government had exaggerated the benefits of the trade pact, which would lower cross-strait tariffs and did not take into account Beijing’s political ambitions toward Taiwan.

He deployed anti-ECFA banners on the ground in front of the gate and laid a Chinese flag on the ground. Popping a large balloon on top of the flag, he said it represented his intention to “pop” what he alleged to be the government’s lies.

No scuffles took place at the scene yesterday. All six protesters later departed after meeting police representatives. Traffic heading to the hotel, a popular destination for Chinese tourists, was not affected.

At a separate setting yesterday, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) lauded the results of the negotiations, saying the early harvest list would benefit the nation.

However, Wang said the ECFA would not be really beneficial to Taiwan unless it continues to enjoy as many benefits as the initial early harvest lists show during the cross-strait negotiation scheduled to take place six months after the ECFA is inked.

Wang said he expected to call a meeting on July 5 with the three legislative caucuses to decide how to review the ECFA during the planned extra legislative session if the trade pact is signed on Tuesday, as planned.

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