China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) earlier this week touted the possible upsides of the cross-strait service trade agreement, while playing down student protesters’ concerns that it will hurt Taiwan’s interests.
TAO spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said that Beijing has been closely following the situation and that advancing cross-strait economic cooperation benefits both sides.
“I believe we and the compatriots on both sides of the strait feel the same — we don’t want to see the progress of cross-strait economic cooperation affected,” he said about the protests in Taiwan at a news conference on Wednesday in Beijing.
He also downplayed some concerns voiced by Taiwanese over the service trade pact. Some worry about an influx of workers from China to Taiwan, he said, but that topic is not actually included in the service trade agreement. Taiwan has not opened its door to workers from China, he said.
He also denied the rumors that Chinese can immigrate to Taiwan for a fee of 48,000 yuan.
The trade-in-services agreement is an economic pact, he said, adding that the two sides of the strait cannot leave themselves out of the process of regional economic integration.
From China’s perspective, it is a mutually beneficial agreement, he said.
Pushed on why so many in Taiwan have opposed the agreement, Ma said: “The answer must be found within Taiwan’s domestic society.”
Improvements in cross-strait relations over the past several years are a hard-won achievement, he said, adding that no one wants things to go back to the tensions that defined the relationship prior to 2008 (when President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office).
While Chinese news media has not covered the protests, it has still drawn attention from many Chinese netizens commenting in discussion forums.
Some argue that China made many concessions in the service agreement, and others say that Taiwan will lose its opportunity for further economic development if it refuses to open its market.