If a single change is made to the cross-strait service trade agreement by the legislature, the government would need to demand a renegotiation of the pact with China, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said yesterday.
We would “have no choice but to renegotiate” with China, Wang said during an interview with Hit FM radio show host Clara Chou (周玉蔻).
Wang said Beijing has been restrained about commenting on the dispute surrounding the pact to avoid any repercussions.
China has had “a rational attitude” toward the dispute, Wang said.
The Mainland Affairs Council did not have any information from China on whether it would accept a request for renegotiation, Wang added.
Wang said the student-led Sunflower movement which demanded that a monitoring system be put in place for cross-strait negotiations before the pact is reviewed was “not a bad thing” for both Taiwan and China.
The student-led protesters’ three-week occupation of the Legislative Yuan, which had been accompanied by mass street demonstrations, ended on Thursday. The activists have vowed to press on with the campaign against the trade deal.
Demonstrators, who carried sunflowers as a symbol of hope, said the trade pact would benefit wealthy companies with Chinese links and expressed fears it could lead to Chinese encroachment on Taiwan’s hard-won and cherished democratic institutions.
Wang yesterday said that the movement offered the government a chance for self-reflection on its approaches to policy implementation and on how to use social media platforms, and that it had shown China that Taiwan is a society of diverse views.
Wang said that when he met in China with his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), minister of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, earlier this year, Wang had told Zhang that Taiwan is a society “full of vitality.”
“They [Chinese officials] should know that now,” Wang added.
According to a Central News Agency report, Zhang, who was in Hainan Province for the Boao Forum for Asia annual conference, said on Thursday that the implication of the movement was that he “must pay a visit to Taiwan to see the whole picture.”
Zhang said he needed to know what ordinary people think, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises, and what they have to say about cross-strait relations.
Following Wang’s visit to China, in February, which was the first-ever trip to China by the top official responsible for relations with China, Zhang had promised a return visit to Taiwan in the first half of this year.
Some details regarding Zhang’s visit to Taiwan still need to be worked out by both sides, but it is likely to take place in the first half of the year, Wang said.
China’s China Daily reported that on the sidelines of the business forum, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) told Taiwan’s former vice president Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) — who attended the forum in his capacity as the chairman of the Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation — that China’s economic reforms represented a huge opportunity for Taiwan.
“We sincerely hope that our Taiwan compatriots can seize the opportunities,” the Chinese premier was quoted as saying.
Additional reporting by Reuters