Sun, Mar 23, 2014 - Page 3 News List

LEGISLATIVE SIEGE: Business groups call for students to withdraw protest

Staff writer, with CNA

Some of Taiwan’s business leaders have urged the students occupying the legislature in protest over the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement with China to calm down, while calling for the government to step up communication with the people.

Tsai Lien-sheng (蔡練生), secretary-general of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, said he believes many people are ignorant of the content of the trade accord signed with Beijing in June last year, judging from the expanding scale of the protests.

Tsai therefore asked the government to increase communication and dialogue with the people.

Newly elected chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce Lai Cheng-i (賴正鎰) also urged the occupants to withdraw from the legislature to allow lawmakers to do their work.

Lai said the industrial and commercial sectors of the country all want the trade pact to be ratified as soon as possible, adding that he believes the cross-strait trade accord will help Taiwan maintain its international competitiveness.

Since late Tuesday, thousands of people — mostly students — opposed to the trade pact have laid siege to the legislature.

Recently the students have demanded that the government withdraw the accord, a demand that differed from the students’ initial request for an article-by-article review.

Protesters are worried that the trade pact, which would open large parts of Taiwan’s service sector to China and vice versa, would threaten the survival of Taiwan’s small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as the livelihoods of its workers, farmers and businesspeople.

Tsai said that an “item-by-item review” is rarely applied on the results of international negotiations.

Only a “yes” or “no” vote would be adopted when deciding whether to ratify such negotiations, he said.

Any attempts to change the content of a signed pact will lead to the whole agreement having to be renegotiated, Tsai said.

He added that no negotiations can produce profits only with no losses.

“It is not possible for the other side to open its doors to Taiwan, while we do not open ours,” Tsai said.

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