The safety of Taiwanese businesspeople in China should be addressed in the proposed agreements scheduled to be signed in upcoming cross-strait talks later this month, lawmakers said yesterday.
Safety measures should be included in a proposed investment protection agreement Taiwan hopes to sign with China later this month, along with a medical cooperation agreement, to ensure China upholds the two international human rights covenants it has signed, lawmakers on the Economics Committee proposed in a draft resolution.
“The safety of Taiwanese businessmen in China can be guaranteed only if Chinese law enforcement is in line with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights it has signed,” Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) said during an interpellation session.
Statistics from the Straits Exchange Foundation, which deals with matters concerning cross-strait exchanges, show that 2,250 of 3,969 complaints filed by China-based Taiwanese businesspeople from 1991 to October this year were related to personal safety. The number included more than the 1,719 complaints filed in connection with trade disputes.
Among the 2,250 safety-related cases, 649 Taiwanese nationals were detained, 396 were reported missing and 103 were killed.
Legislators expressed concern ahead of the sixth round of cross-strait talks, which will reportedly be held on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17 in Taipei. Despite the assurances of government officials present at the interpellation session, including Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yen-hsiang (施顏祥) and Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Kao Charng (高長), that the protection of Taiwanese nationals is the government’s priority, they said that it would be difficult to include such a demand in the agreement.
“Taiwan wants the Chinese authorities to handle trade disputes in the spirit of the two international covenants, but investment protection agreements usually do not cover this field,” Shih said.
Safety is even more urgent than investment protection for the bilateral negotiation agenda because Taiwanese businesspeople have been complaining about the issue for years, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Ching-chih- (吳清池) said, adding that some businesspeople have had to flee China in the dead of night to avoid being illegally detained by Chinese law enforcement authorities.
However, Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), also a KMT legislator, warned that if Taiwan insists on including safety issues in the text of the agreement, negotiations could collapse.
“In any case, China does not abide by these international covenants,” he said.