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Taiwan Solidarity Union files new ECFA referendum request
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
Page 2
2010-07-01 12:00 AM
The Taiwan Solidarity Union filed a new request for a referendum with the Central Election Commission yesterday, one day after Taiwan and China signed the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

Top cross-straits negotiators P.K. Chiang for Taiwan and Chen Yunlin for China signed the accord in the city of Chongqing, seven years to the day after China and Hong Kong concluded a Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement. The government denied the date was especially chosen, and also rejected accusations that the two deals were similar.

TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei handed over more than 110,000 referendum endorsements to the Central Election Commission yesterday. He called on the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou to assist the people in calling a referendum, and not to see the people as its enemy.

Huang said the cross-straits economic cooperation committee which would be established as a result of ECFA would meet once every six months, leading to the possible complete opening of trade between Taiwan and China.

The government should explain whether ECFA was a trade treaty resorting under the World Trade Organization, Huang said. If it was, then both sides would be forced to open their markets for 90 percent within ten years, he said. However, if it wasn't, then Taiwan had been treated as if it were on the same level as Hong Kong, a mere territory of China, according to Huang.

The TSU leader said ECFA would completely alter the nature of Taiwan's economy, society and politics, leading foreign media to describe it as the biggest change in 60 years of relations with China.

"The Ma administration is using an economic issue such as ECFA to package the change of Taiwan's status as a sovereign and independent nation," Huang said, explaining the need for the people to have their say on the accord.

Huang was accompanied by several leading Taiwan Independence activists, who said a referendum was needed to stop Ma from pushing the country further along the path to unification with China.

The party's previous request was turned down by the government's Referendum Review Committee in early June. In the first phase, referendum petitioners need to come up with at least 86,600 signatures, or 0.5 percent of eligible voters at the most recent presidential election. If the referendum committee approves the request, a further 866,000 endorsements are needed.

Last year, the committee also rejected a request from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which supports the TSU campaign.

Separately, a number of social action groups announced yesterday they would form a "Cross-Straits Agreement Review Alliance" on July 10 because they thought the government had failed to provide sufficient transparency during the ECFA preparations.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Yuan is deliberating how and when to review ECFA. The DPP wants all relevant committees to discuss the accord clause by clause, while the ruling Kuomintang wants one vote on the whole package.

The DPP's legislative caucus "will use the strongest possible method to protest the KMT's repression of Taiwan's public opinion," said chief whip Chai Trong-rong.

Premier Wu Den-yih apparently reflected Ma's opinion that ECFA should not be reviewed clause by clause, while Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng disagreed even though he was also a senior member of the KMT, reports said.

DPP lawmaker Pan Men-an said that one vote on the whole ECFA not only violated the spirit of democracy, but also the law that said that each legislative proposal should receive three readings.

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