A pressure group yesterday urged the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) to enter talks with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to reach a “Taiwan consensus” on the operation of a soon-to-be-launched cross-strait economic cooperation committee (ECC).
Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強), convener of the Alliance of Supervising Cross-Strait Agreements, said once an ECC was up and running, it was bound to create a democratic crisis, as it would infringe on the authority of the executive, legislative and judicial branches in negotiating additional cross-strait deals.
“If there is no way to stop the committee from operating, we would like to see the administration come to a consensus with the opposition party on the matter before negotiating with China,” he said.
The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed in June stipulates that Taiwan and China must set up a cross-strait ECC once the trade pact takes effect and initiate discussions on agreements on investment protection, commodity trade, service trade and a dispute-resolution mechanism within six months of the pact’s implementation. The trade deal came into force on Sept. 12.
Lai said any decision made by the committee should receive approval from the legislature before it becomes law.
The committee should not have judicial and legislative powers or replace any government agency, nor should it order or supervise public servants, he said.
All committee meetings must be recorded in audio and video format and materials must be presented to the legislature for reference. In addition, the budget of the committee must be earmarked separately rather than merged with that of other agencies, he said.
Taipei Society director Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) described the committee as “cancer cells in the constitutional system,” which would threaten the healthy condition of the Constitution if it is handled properly.
Huang, who proposed to request an interpretation from the Council of Grand Justices on the constitutionality of the committee, admitted it would be hard to do so if the KMT did not support the campaign.
A request for interpretation requires the endorsement of one-third of legislators. The KMT holds a 66 percent legislative majority, while the DPP holds almost 30 percent of the seats.
Honigmann Hong (洪財隆), an adjunct assistant professor of economics at National Tsing Hua University’s Center for Contemporary China, said that while he was not against signing a cross-strait agreement that “embodies cross-strait specialties,” he opposed letting the two sides handle disputes resulting from the agreement, as such disputes should be handled by international arbitrators in accordance with international rules.
Taiwan Association for Human Rights secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) said she was concerned by a cross-strait agreement on medical and health cooperation signed on Tuesday.
China’s ability to manage medical and health affairs, as well as its honesty in such matters and transparency of its information are questionable, she said.
It was doubtful that Taiwanese health authorities were strong enough to ensure that medical and health problems in China did not, under the agreement, translate into similar problems in Taiwan, Tsai said.