Mainland negotiator still hopes for Taiwan's OK of pact
Updated: 2014-03-31 07:56
The mainland's chief cross-Straits negotiator said he would be deeply disappointed if a service trade pact is not approved in Taiwan.
Speaking at a forum on Sunday, Chen Deming, president of the Chinese mainland-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, said the trade agreement could boost Taiwan's economy as the economies of the mainland and the island are highly intertwined.
As a follow-up to the 2010 Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, the trade pact aims to open up 80 of the mainland's service sectors to Taiwan and 64 Taiwan sectors to the mainland.
The service sector contributed more than 70 percent of Taiwan's GDP, whereas the mainland has a strong manufacturing sector and records a trade deficit in its service industry, Chen said.
Signed in June, the trade pact has languished for over five months in Taiwan's legislative authority, waiting to be ratified. Legislators of the ruling Kuomintang blamed the pro-independence opposition Democratic Progressive Party for persistently blocking the review process.
The pact was sent to the legislative session on March 17 after the KMT decided that the clause-by-clause review had been completed. The decision sparked protests from the DPP and students, leading to accusations of "undemocratic" tactics used to speed up ratification of the pact.
Taking to streets
In Taipei, thousands of people on Sunday afternoon flocked to streets to protest the service trade pact.
Dressed in black shirts, many students and members of the public joined a sit-in at Ketagalan Boulevard, where the Taiwan leader's office is located, and its nearby streets.
The demonstration has so far been peaceful, as protesters listened to speeches and chanted slogans demanding the withdrawal of the pact.
At the nearby Taipei Train Station, another group of people continued their rally to call for social stability and urged students to leave the legislative building so it could resume its work.
Infuriated by what they see as undemocratic tactics used by the Kuomintang to ratify the pact, hundreds of students stormed into the chamber of Taiwan's legislative authority on March 18 and have occupied the site ever since.
Student leaders called for more Taiwanese to join them as they had failed to reach an agreement with the authority on ending the deadlock. The students have issued demands that include rejecting the pact, passing a law to monitor future cross-Straits agreements, and convening a "citizen constitutional meeting".
On Saturday, Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou agreed on the clause-by-clause review of the service pact and legalizing scrutiny of future cross-Straits pacts. But he opposes scrapping the agreement, saying doing so would hurt Taiwan's economy.