Tue, Jan 14, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Legislative cross-strait panel dropped

HAVING A SAY:The ‘cross-strait affairs panel’ was proposed by the legislative speaker in an attempt to give lawmakers access to cross-strait trade negotiations

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi, left, meets with legislators during a public hearing on the cross-strait service trade agreement at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday dismissed Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng’s (王金平) proposal that a “cross-strait affairs panel” be established to report to the legislature to strengthen its supervision of the government, saying that this could lead to a constitutional dispute.

Wang Yu-chi made the remarks before attending the 15th public hearing held by the legislature on the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement.

The legislative speaker put forth the idea on Saturday last week in an attempt to give lawmakers access to cross-strait trade negotiations, saying that the pact caused such controversy because the legislature had been left out of the agreement’s negotiations.

He also cited as an example the US’ trade negotiations with other nations, in which two US senators and two US representatives were allowed to participate in and supervise the negotiation process and routinely briefed US Congress on the latest progress.

Lawmakers have made similar suggestions in 2000, proposing that such a panel be led by the legislative speaker and made up of members recommended by various political parties in proportion to the number of their legislative seats.

“There have been calls for the government to set up a mechanism similar to the one implemented by the US for its trade talks to allow [the legislature] to participate in cross-strait trade negotiations. However, the US Congress is only allowed to join the negotiations because it is given the power by the US Constitution to regulate trade with other nations,” Wang Yu-chi said.

The minister added that only a handful of nations, including the US, but not including Taiwan, granted their parliaments such a right.

“The public is advised to take into account the reasons these nations designed their constitutions differently when discussing [the possibility of forming such a panel] to avoid a constitutional conflict,” Wang Yu-chi said.

Democratic Progressive Party caucus whip Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘) said on Saturday last week that the party planned to place Wang Jin-pyng’s proposal on the agenda for the next legislative session, which is to begin on Feb. 21, “as the nation cannot afford to wait any longer.”

Meanwhile, Wang Yu-chi yesterday pledged to stand firm on the government’s position on cross-strait relations during his planned visit to China.

The government’s principal policy toward China remains unchanged — maintaining the “status quo” of “no unification, no independence, no use of force” based on the Republic of China Constitution, Wang Yu-chi said.

The MAC minister is expected to travel to China in the middle of next month to meet with his Chinese counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

It will be Wang’s first visit to China in his official capacity and the first formal meeting between the two officials tasked with handling ties across the Taiwan Strait.

Seeking to keep Wang Yu-chi on a tight leash during the trip, legislators reached a cross-party consensus last week to forbid him from embarking on any negotiations, signing any papers or issuing any news releases or statements on such political issues as “one China,” the “one China framework,” “one country, two regions,” a “military confidence-building mechanism,” “peace agreement,” or “political relations arrangement in stages.”

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