Representatives from Taiwan’s six major industrial and commercial associations yesterday urged lawmakers to expedite the ratification of the controversial cross-strait service trade agreement during a visit to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), amid angry chants from groups rallying outside the legislature against what they described as big corporations’ attempts to “sell the nation.”
The six business representatives included Chinese National Federation of Industries chairman Rock Hsu (許勝雄), General Chamber of Commerce chairman Lawrence Chang (張平沼), Chinese National Association of Industry and Commerce chairman Kenneth Lo (駱錦明), Taiwan Federation of Industry chairman Hsu Hsien-rong (許顯榮), Taiwan Electrical and Electronic Manufacturers’ Association chairman Gou Tai-chiang (郭台強) and National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises president Lin Hui-ying (林慧瑛).
The visit by the representatives has raised concerns among the groups — most of which strongly oppose the trade agreement —because it coincided with the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits chairman Chen Deming’s (陳德銘) eight-day visit to Taiwan that began yesterday, an arrangement the pan-green camp said constituted an “affront” to Taiwanese sovereignty.
Taiwan Labor Front secretary-general Son Yu-lian (孫友聯) said it was apparent that the six associations had joined the Association of Taiwan Investment Enterprises on the Mainland (ATIEM) in its efforts to pressure the legislature into passing the accord.
The ATIEM, a business group affiliated with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, recently placed advertisements in several local newspapers urging the treaty’s approval.
“Civic groups like us may be at a disadvantage, but that does not entitle those associations to deprive us of a space where we can freely express opinions,” Son said.
Son called on Wang to receive members of the groups in the same manner in which he hosted the associations’ representatives, and urged the legislature to listen and respond to public opinions rather than caving in to external pressure.
Democratic Front Against Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement convener Lai Chung-chiang (賴中強) said most members of the six associations had business interests in China and enjoyed close ties with Chinese politicians.
Citing examples, Lai said electronics conglomerate Kinpo Group had about 60,000 employees in China and was talking to China’s major smartphone maker, Huawei Technologies, about a plan to jointly establish a plant in Brazil.
Capital Securities Corp, the nation’s fourth-largest brokerage house by market share, announced days before the agreement’s signing in June that it was already searching for potential joint-venture partners in China’s Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, Lai said, adding that the Industrial Bank of Taiwan founded the IBT International Leasing Co in Suzhou in 2011.
“It is absolutely unreasonable for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration to demand that the accord be ratified before the current legislative session ends next month, when the Ministry of Economic Affairs has yet to list all the service-related sectors covered by the treaty or complete its impact assessment report on the agreement,” Lai said.
Lai urged the legislature to listen to the voice of the people and respect the “right to survival” of Taiwan’s 10 million workers and small-and-medium-sized enterprises.
Additional reporting by Chris Wang