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Business groups call for tolerance to end standoff over trade pact
Central News Agency
2014-03-25 06:56 PM
Taipei, March 25 (CNA) Business groups called on the public Tuesday to be tolerant of each other for the sake of the nation and to forge national consensus through rational dialogue to end the standoff over a trade pact with China. A total of 52 business groups made the appeal at a joint news conference as a group of protesters, mostly students, who stormed into the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan March 18, continued to hold out in the lawmaking body. The controversy over the trade-in-services pact was caused by the government's failure to communicate effectively with the people, as well as the blocking of the pact's passage through the Legislature by some legislators so that it was sent straight to the legislative floor instead of being screened by legislative joint committees, the business groups said. The move triggered misgivings and anger about what the protesters perceive as the ruling party's violations of procedural justice. Hsu Sheng-hsiung, chairman of the Chinese National Federation of Industries, noted that the standoff has caused political confrontation and social instability. This has affected the operations of the government and the faith of foreign investors, Hsu said, calling it a "sad thing." He asked Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to coordinate between the ruling and opposition parties and begin substantive screening of the pact to solve the stalemate. He also suggested a national affairs conference, saying that in addition to the trade pact, the government's promotion of a cross-Taiwan Strait merchandise trade agreement, as well as the fourth nuclear power plant project, could all trigger further controversy, making dialogue with the public necessary to forge national consensus. Hsu was positive about the protesters' participation in national affairs and their calls for public attention to the need for proper screening of the pact, but he also said that "every actor has to play his role well in order to put on a good show." He said the students should stop their protest lest they continue to affect the operations of the Legislature and hurt Taiwan's democratic system. He appeared overcome several times as he spoke of the violence between protesters and police and asked "do the people have to live in this kind of confrontational environment?" He said that the world economy has just bottomed out and is yet to fully recover, and that Taiwan's economy cannot withstand more blows. It will be tough for the nation to achieve the goal of 3 percent growth this year, he added. He also noted that some labor groups have advocated a national strike, but said this would result in direct losses of NT$120 billion (US$3.93 billion) per day, as well as create problems of meeting delivery dates for foreign buyers. This will in turn affect Taiwan's status in the world supply chain and hurt people's jobs. He said that as South Korea, Taiwan's main rival, is creating the image in Asia of a great country through its popular culture and TV programs, Taiwan cannot afford to show a negative image repeatedly. (By Lin Meng-jui and Lilian Wu)
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