Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), who caused the legislative Internal Administration Committee to grind to a halt on Dec. 17 after his no-show, told the legislative committees yesterday that he was just a “rubber stamp” and that his job was only to sign the cross-strait agreements.
Chiang and his Chinese counterpart, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), signed agreements on fishing crew cooperation, agricultural quarantine inspection, and industrial product standards, inspection and certification at the end of their talks in Taichung last week.
A double taxation avoidance agreement was initially expected to be signed as well but representatives of the two parties decided at a preparatory meeting on Monday last week that the proposed tax agreement needed to be shelved until “technical issues” could be dealt with at a later date.
Chiang yesterday said he did not know the two sides were going to drop the accord on the avoidance of double taxation until a day before his meeting with Chen.
To avoid future cross-strait talks from causing social disturbances, Chiang proposed to simplify the meetings and separate them from sightseeing activities.
Chiang made the remarks at a legislative meeting that was held jointly by the Internal Administration Committee, Economics Committee, Finance Committee and Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee to discuss last week’s talks.
DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩), who refused to refer to Chiang as SEF chairman, said it was pointless to question “Mr. Chiang” because he knew nothing about the negotiations.
Chiu was also irked by Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) who did not answer a question about the disadvantages of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) that the government seeks to sign with Beijing next year.
DPP Legislator William Lai (賴清德) questioned Chiang’s business connections with China, saying he would go down in history as a sinner because he used his position to serve his own interests.
Chiang, however, said the agreement on the standardization system had nothing to do with his business and that he was not involved in the negotiation process.
Cashing in on their numerical advantage, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators objected to the motion filed by DPP lawmakers that the three cross-strait accords signed must be reviewed by the legislature, rather than just ratified, before they take effect.
The MAC said on Tuesday that the three pacts will automatically go into effect 90 days after approval by the executive branch, pending ratification of the legislature. They do not require legislative review because they do not concern revisions to existing law, it added.
KMT lawmakers yesterday also dismissed another DPP proposal that would require government agencies charged with ECFA negotiations to make available the content of negotiations when both sides come to a consensus or conclude a joint study.
After editing the wording of another DPP proposal, the KMT agreed to ask the Council of Agriculture to clearly define the term “fishing affairs” for Chinese fishermen within three months and ban Chinese fishermen from engaging in non-fishing-related activities on shore.
To honor the government’s promise not to allow more Chinese workers and agricultural products from entering the local market, KMT lawmakers also agreed on another motion filed by the DPP that all cross-strait agreements or legal revisions must not relax restrictions on the import of Chinese workers or agricultural produce.