Tue, Jun 25, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Groups urge trade agreement review

ULTIMATUM:At a rally, civic groups demanded Premier Jiang Yi-huah ensure that the agreement is reviewed by the legislature before being validated, or resign from office

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Civic group members rally outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday to protest the signing of a cross-strait service trade agreement with China, demanding that the legislature conduct a review of the pact.

Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) should step down if he does not guarantee that the service trade agreement with China will not be validated until the legislature conducts a de facto review of it, civic groups said yesterday as they rallied outside the Executive Yuan in Taipei yesterday to protest the signing of the pact.

“The premier should publicly promise that he will not validate the pact until the Legislative Yuan reviews and approves it. If he does not promise this, or unilaterally validates the agreement, we call on lawmakers to dissolve the Cabinet and boycott it by all means possible,” Cross-Strait Agreements Watch convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said.

“This is an agreement that will have a huge impact on workers and yet the government not only declined to allow the public to participate in the decisionmaking process prior to the pact’s signing, it is now not allowing public involvement after the signing,” Lai said.

The service agreement was signed by the Straits Exchange Foundation and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits on Friday last week.

Under the pact, Chinese capital and personnel will be allowed to enter some industries in Taiwan’s service sector and Taiwan will be granted to access to some Chinese industries.

The development has caused concern among many Taiwanese, who worry that Chinese capital may marginalize Taiwanese capital and that Chinese workers will take job opportunities from their local counterparts.

Though the content of the agreement was kept hidden from the public and the Legislative Yuan, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)-majority legislature is likely to approve it without going through the details.

Taiwan Labour Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) said that neither the government nor the service industry are fully prepared to meet the new challenges that they will face after the pact is implemented.

“The government should not validate the service trade pact without being fully prepared for its effects,” Son said. “We would especially like to protest the government’s plan to allow Chinese workers into Taiwan in such a rash and underprepared manner.”

Taiwan Rural Front researcher Hsu Po-jen (許博任) said that almost everyone would be affected by the new deal and urged the public to pay more attention to it.

“Running water, electricity, gas, education — everything that we thought would be protected by the government may become corporate-controlled,” Hsu said.

“Thinking beyond China, with the KMT and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) support for free trade and economic liberalization, not only Chinese capital, but also US, South Korean, or Japanese capital could be in control of our lives,” Hsu added.

“We have to shout our opposition to any kind of free trade that favors multinational corporations,” he added.

After Executive Yuan official Chang Hung-chun (張洪均) took the petition from the protesters — without making any comments — the demonstrators moved to the Legislative Yuan to meet with the Democratic Progressive Party, People First Party and Taiwan Solidarity caucuses to discuss further action in the legislature against the agreement.

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