TAO rejects renegotiating pact

NO PRECEDENT::The Chinese official said agreements between countries should not be reconsidered, after a referendum was proposed for the cross-strait trade pact

By Peng Hsien-chun, Chris Wang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Thu, Apr 17, 2014 - Page 1

Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesperson Fan Liqing (范麗青) yesterday said that there is no precedent for reopening negotiations on signed agreements between countries and that the “authority” of treaties inked by authorized representatives from both sides of the Taiwan Strait must be defended.

Fan made the remarks at a routine press conference in China yesterday amid growing calls for the government to renegotiate the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement it signed with Beijing on June 21 last year.

The remarks followed Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng’s (吳育昇) proposal on Tuesday to put the trade agreement to a referendum if lawmakers from different parties remain sharply divided on its passage.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) proffered a different solution on Monday, urging the government to defuse the standoff by bringing the service pact into effect and then employing the “emergency consultation mechanism” to renegotiate the most debated parts of it with China.

“This would be a better approach since subjecting the agreement to even a standard revision by the legislature could trigger its complete renegotiation,” Wang said.

Dismissing the ongoing bid to institutionalize a cross-strait agreement supervisory mechanism, Fan said: “The normal process of equal cross-strait consultations should not be interfered with, nor obstructed.”

However, Fan said Beijing was willing to listen to the opinions of Taiwanese from all sectors of society to assure that most of them can benefit from the peaceful development of bilateral relations.

“The promotion of cross-strait economic cooperation and interaction is particularly beneficial for Taiwanese and has brought substantial benefits to both sides,” Fan said.

In response to the Taiwan Affairs Office’s comments, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said China’s lack of democracy makes it difficult for the leadership in Beijing to understand the essence of a true democracy.

“As Taiwan is a country of democracy and rule of law, its legislature is in charge of monitoring all exterior trade negotiations, as well as all legislation. It’s common sense to us, but I guess China could perhaps have difficulty realizing what this means,” DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said.

“Although China refused to reopen negotiations, it must respect Taiwan’s position and its interior procedures,” Lin added.

Lin described Beijing’s attitude toward Taiwan as “negative” regarding bilateral economic activities and said he suspected that China would not take such a hard stance in its trade dealings with other nations such as Japan, South Korea and South Asian countries.