LEGISLATIVE SIEGE: Minister echoes Cabinet warning to young protesters

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Mar 22, 2014 - Page 3

Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) echoed other Cabinet officials as he warned of a potentially far-reaching impact on young Taiwanese if the cross-strait service trade agreement with China is not endorsed by the legislature.

“If these students and young people go on like this, I believe they will regret it,” Chang said of the protesters who have occupied the legislative chamber in Taipei since Tuesday to oppose the pact.

If Taiwan fails to catch up in economic liberalization and the signing of free-trade agreements, he said the economic impact could be seen “as soon as two to three years from now,” though he did not elaborate on what he expected the exact challenges would be.

He cautioned that his time frame means it would be the youth of today, and not a future generation, that would bear the brunt of the fallout.

Responding to charges that the deal was worked out in secret and kept from the public, Chang said that numerous public hearings and three legislative committee meetings had been held before the agreement was signed by representatives from China and Taiwan in June last year.

He added that the thousands of protesters inside and surrounding the Legislative Yuan since Tuesday night are likely worried about a “Trojan horse” scenario based on limited knowledge of the pact and its potential effects, adding that they are not industry representatives.

“This [agreement with China] is a necessary step for us to head out” to the rest of the world, he said.