Taiwan lawmakers demand China service pact report by premier

KMT agrees to legislative review June 21 agreement

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Lawmakers were likely to clash next week over the need for Premier Jiang Yi-huah to present a report about the newly signed Taiwan-China service trade pact, reports said Saturday.
The small opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union said it would boycott government proposals to the end unless the premier presented a report about the June 21 accord and the government allowed legislators to review the document. The ruling Kuomintang has agreed to the review, but does not want Jiang to address the Legislative Yuan on the issue.
Critics of the agreement have said it will open up all sectors of Taiwan’s economy and daily life to influence from China without getting sufficient concessions in return. The opposition has also attacked the government for drawing up the accord without any consultation with relevant business sectors, waiting until after Friday’s signing to reveal details.
TSU caucus whip Hsu Chung-hsin said the agreement would affect 5.42 million people in the environmental, financial, insurance, medical and other services sectors. The impact of the deal was too large to let it just slide by without a thorough review, he said.
Most of the 19 agreements Taiwan signed with China since 2008 have been passed without legislative review because they did not require changes to existing laws.
Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng reportedly agreed with a legislative review of the agreement, but he added that Jiang would not need to appear in person but could be represented by Cabinet ministers to answer questions.
Hsu said that during negotiations scheduled for Monday, the opposition would demand a clause-by-clause and article-by-article review of the trade pact, putting the issue at the top of the agenda for the current June 13-27 special session of the Legislative Yuan. Original issues such as pension reform and the proposed referendum about the fourth nuclear plant should be put back to later, he said, predicting confrontation if the KMT did not agree.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party chief legislative whip Ker Chien-ming said that if President Ma Ying-jeou failed to respond to the crisis, he would not exclude the possibility that the opposition would ask for a renegotiation of the treaty.
KMT whip Lai Shyh-bao said the ruling camp agreed with the review of the pact, but added that it was not necessary for the premier to appear each time a lawmaker had a question. The Economic Affairs and Mainland Affairs Council ministers could come and provide the necessary details, he said.
The Straits Exchange Foundation negotiating team which discussed and signed the agreement in Shanghai Friday returned to Taiwan Saturday to deliver a report to the premier at the Executive Yuan, reports said.
Another important cross-straits issue waiting to be resolved was the opening of offices in each other’s country, an item listed for discussion at the next round of talks before the end of the year.
The DPP agrees that the SEF should be allowed to open offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, but they should receive consular functions such as the issuing of travel documents and visitation rights for Taiwanese prisoners in China. If that was not the case, it would show that China was not giving the SEF offices equal treatment, the opposition said.