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Officials talk to students about services pact with China
Central News Agency
2014-03-31 04:26 PM
Taipei, March 31 (CNA) A series of government presentations on the controversial trade-in-services agreement with China kicked off Monday at National Chengchi University, drawing a crowd of nearly 200 students. According to the main speaker at the event, Deputy Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun, the presentation focuses on discussing the pact with students rather than promoting it. The more than 180 students who filled the lecture hall took notes, filmed the presentation and applauded every speaker, showing their full attention to the issue. In addition to government officials, an official with the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was included in the speaker lineup. Hung Tsai-lung, director of the DPP's Department of China Affairs, countered the government's view that the pact is necessary for Taiwan to avoid being marginalized and that Taiwan will not be able to join major trade blocs if the agreement fails to win legislative approval. China is to blame for Taiwan's possible marginalization, Hung said, and he described Beijing as a factor that should not be excluded from the debate over the trade pact. Duh explained that the presentations were not about "convincing" students of the pact's merits at a time when student-led protesters are occupying the Legislature in protest of the handling of the agreement. The deputy minister said the MOEA was willing to explain the pact to students last August, not long after the government signed it on June 21. The MOEA contacted 454 different university departments at the time to see if they wanted to organize a presentation on the pact, but only 18 schools showed interest, Duh said. The prestigious National Taiwan University and National Tsing Hua University -- the schools attended by the two most visible faces of the student-led protest movement -- did not show an interest, he said. Now, as the protest against the services pact begins to raise awareness of it, the MOEA is more than willing to explain why it is necessary, Duh said. The authorities began to contact universities again on March 27, and around five law and finance departments to date have shown interest in having the MOEA-led team make the presentation on their campuses. (By Hsu Hui, Huang Chiao-wen and Aileen Chuang)
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