Fri, Apr 11, 2014 - Page 3 News List

TRADE PACT SIEGE: MAC contests inclusion of human rights in bill

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi speaks at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday said that a civic group’s inclusion of human rights issues in a proposed bill on establishing an oversight mechanism for cross-strait negotiations would only complicate matters and make it too difficult to sign an agreement.

In response to criticism that the government-sponsored oversight bill fails to safeguard human rights, Wang said that including human rights and other related issues in cross-strait negotiations “would only increase the difficulty of striking an agreement.”

Wang made the remarks at a press conference following a Cabinet meeting, where he briefed members on the differences between the various versions of the proposed bill, including those from opposition parties and a civic group.

The version drafted by the Democratic Front Against the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement — one of the groups leading the legislative siege — and favored by students in the Sunflower movement, set out human rights obligations requiring parties to any cross-strait agreement to respect human rights.

Wang said it is not that the government does not care about human rights issues, but human rights issues should not be mixed up with other issues.

The government has already fortified human rights protection in the Cross-Strait Joint Crime-Fighting and Judicial Mutual Assistance Agreement and the Cross-Strait Bilateral Investment Agreement, Wang said.

The ongoing negotiations on establishing representative offices on both sides of the Taiwan Strait also addresses human rights issues, he added.

Aside from the human rights issue, the government has previously criticized the civic group’s proposal as violating the principle of separation of powers because the legislature must give its consent before cross-strait negotiations on an issue can begin and it can reject a proposed agreement based on public assessment before the deal is signed.

The government has also said the civic group’s proposal seeks to change the political “status quo” by defining a cross-strait agreement as one signed between the government of the Republic of China in Taiwan and the government of the People’s Republic of China in “the mainland,” as opposed to one signed between the “Taiwan Area” and the “Mainland Area” under the government’s proposed version.

In related news, Nationalist Chinese Party (KMT) spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) yesterday rebutted a critical commentary about President Ma Ying-jeou written by Chen Fang-ming (陳芳明), a political analyst and professor at National Chengchi University’s Graduate Institute of Taiwanese Literature.

Chen wrote that young people had lost trust in the president not only because he had retracted his anti-communist position since taking office and given in to Beijing’s demands to the detriment of Taiwan, but he also praised China for its human rights achievements and reforms in his June 4 speech last year, Chen said in the article published by the Chinese-language United Daily News yesterday.

Ma has long cared about China’s human rights records and has been consistent on the issue, Fan Chiang said.

Ma’s position in this regard can stand public scrutiny, Fan Chiang added.

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