President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has mishandled cross-strait relations and the government should respect Taiwan’s sovereignty, safeguard the interests of its people and uphold the democratic process, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said yesterday.
While the DPP has always supported fair and reciprocal cross-strait economic activities, the public, the opposition and most Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) politicians were not informed of the contents of a service trade agreement set to be signed today, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said.
“It is unbelievable that in a democratic country, only a handful of high-ranking government officials know what the agreement entails. It was also unbelievable that the sectors to be included on the liberalization list and what impact the agreement could have on those sectors, their employees and Taiwan’s economy remain unknown,” Su said.
He said the pact should not be signed before the government submits an impact assessment report.
Su also criticized the KMT for advocating a “one China” structure to echo Beijing’s “one China” framework without going through a democratic process, saying that the initiative has stripped the Taiwanese of their right to determine their own future.
“We demand that Ma explain the matter to the public clearly, without ambiguity or evasion,” Su said.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said the party condemns the opaque nature of the service trade agreement.
“Taiwanese businesses and workers are entitled to be informed of the details of the pact, which is a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement [ECFA], and may affect their livelihoods. The negotiations should also be monitored by the legislature,” Lin said.
Citing a recent public opinion poll conducted by the DPP’s polling center, Lin said 68.4 percent of respondents said the Ma administration has failed to meet its stated goals three years after the ECFA was signed and only 9.9 percent thought that the goals have been met.
The poll, conducted on June 10 and June 11, collected 989 valid samples and had a margin of error of 3.18 percentage points.
DPP Legislator Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) said China has refused to liberalize the sector related to intellectual property rights, which is Taiwan’s most competitive service sector, while for the other four sectors — transportation, travel, insurance and finance — in which Taiwan enjoys advantages that are scheduled to be liberalized, Beijing has set up trade barriers.
“Beijing only wanted to absorb Taiwan’s labor, investments and know-how in those sectors,” Lee said.
Meanwhile, Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said the agreement scheduled to be signed today is a ploy by the Ma administration to legalize the entry of Chinese workers to Taiwan.
The new pact would affect more than 4.7 million employees in Taiwan, he said.
The ECFA did not substantially benefit Taiwan, as the administration claims, and the government’s eagerness to open the service sector to Chinese investors ignores the common worker in Taiwan and panders to the Chinese, Huang said.
“Opening the market to foreign investment is an opportunity to increase job opportunities, but opening up the service trade will only take away jobs from Taiwanese and harm Taiwanese businesses,” Huang said.
Voicing doubts about the quality of the Chinese service sector, Huang said Taiwan’s service quality outranked China’s by a fair margin.
“It doesn’t matter which area of the service sector — hair salons and cosmetics, tourism or dining — once it is opened to cheap Chinese labor it will take away job opportunities from Taiwanese,” Huang said, adding that the opening would fuel a vicious cycle of cost-cutting.
Additional reporting by Chen Ching-min and Tseng Wei-chen