The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) caucus yesterday voiced its disappointment with the cross-strait investment protection accord signed a day earlier and vowed to screen the deal clause-by-clause in the new legislative session.
“We are extremely disappointed that Taiwan came home empty-handed on two issues that has drawn the most public attention — personal safety protection and an international arbitration mechanism,” DPP Legislator Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) told a press conference.
Taiwan and China inked an investment protection and promotion agreement on Thursday in the eighth round of cross-strait talks in Taipei.
The clause on personal safety — arguably the most important subject for Taiwan in the talks — is not reciprocal, she said.
Beijing only agreed that if Taiwanese businesspeople are detained in China, it would notify the detainees’ families and companies in China within 24 hours, but not those in Taiwan, she said.
The clause also does not cover those who are detained on allegations of jeopardizing national security, Cheng said, adding that an amendment to China’s criminal code this year has legalized secret arrests.
“That means China can arrest people at will because of national security concerns,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Taiwanese government is bound by law to notify detentions of Chinese nationals to their families and friends within 24 hours, she added.
The agreement has lowered human rights standards in Taiwan and failed to include a pledge that families and Taiwan’s representatives, as well as legal advisers, be allowed to visit the detainees, she said.
Taiwan’s negotiation team, led by the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), had not done its job of safeguarding national interests, she said.
Cheng said SEF Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) and MAC Minister Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) should step down.
She also listed three demands — a clause-by-clause screening of the agreement in the new legislative session, prioritizing the signing of an agreement guaranteeing the personal safety of all Taiwanese in China in the next round of cross-strait talks, and establishing a mechanism that would be able to monitor a potential influx of Chinese investments and safeguard Taiwanese security and democracy.
DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said China appeared to have gotten all it wanted in the agreement with the clauses on national treatment, most favored nation status, as well as a gradual elimination of restrictions on Chinese investment.
China could also “call the shots” in investment disputes, she said.
While investors may be allowed to choose an arbitration institution in a third country or area for private-to-private (P2P) disputes, it is China that will determine which third country it would be.
“From what I’ve seen, the agreement has been a disaster. We will have it screened clause by clause in the legislature. Hopefully, other opposition parties will support the initiative,” she said.
Later yesterday, MAC Chairperson Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) dismissed criticism of the investment protection agreement and insisted that putting the personal safety agenda in a separate consensus document, rather than in the context of the agreement, would help implement related issues better.
“Most of the international investment protection agreements the mainland signed with other countries do not address personal-safety issues and our agreement includes a 24-hour reporting system, which is what Taiwanese businesspeople want. I don’t understand the DPP’s criticism,” she said.