Commerce and industry groups yesterday called for quick passage of the cross-strait service trade pact, as protesters continued to occupy the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber in protest against efforts to push the deal through the legislature.
Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰), head of the General Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Shining Construction Group, and Yeh Ming-feng (葉明峰), a consultant with the Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce, said they respected the concerns expressed by the students protesters and other activists.
However, they said the students may be too young to fully understand the international economic situation or the pact, which was signed in June last year, but must clear the legislature before it can be implemented.
Describing the pact as vital to efforts to boost the nation’s economy, Lai said it should be passed as soon as possible to take advantage of the Chinese market of 1.3 billion people and to make up for opportunities lost since the pact was signed.
Similar views were expressed by Taiwanese game developers, who have recently placed full-page advertisements in major Chinese-language papers in support of the pact, which would expedite China’s processing of locally developed games and thus give them an edge over foreign and counterfeit games.
Meanwhile, some Taiwanese businesspeople in China have criticized the protest, describing it as “violent” and warning that it could undermine Taiwan’s democratic values.
Han Chia-chen (韓家宸), head of a Taiwanese businesspeople’s group in Tianjin, China, questioned whether the protesters truly understood the significance of the pact to Taiwan.
With South Korea signing more free-trade deals, tariffs on 80 percent of its foreign trade will be removed, compared with less than 10 percent of Taiwan’s exports, Han said. The protesters must face the reality of market conditions, he said.
Lin Ching-fa (林清發), head of an association of Taiwanese-funded businesses in Beijing, said the protesters are setting a bad example by seeking to reverse a legislative decision that reflects the majority of public opinion.
Lin said the protest would make more sense if it was being staged by businesses that will be directly affected by the pact.
Machinery and banking groups in Taiwan, as well as 138 businesses that are members of the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland, are more representative of the public’s opinion toward the pact. These groups have placed advertisements and statements in the media highlighting the importance of the pact, he said.