Business groups urge protesting students to calm down
Central News Agency
2014-03-21 11:16 PM
Taipei, March 21 (CNA) Taiwan's business interests on Friday urged students occupying the Legislature to protest against a controversial trade in services agreement with China, to calm down, while calling for the government to step up communications with the people. Tsai Lien-sheng, secretary general of the Taipei-based Chinese National Federation of Industries, said he believes many people are ignorant of the contents of the cross-Taiwan Strait trade-in-services accord signed last June, judging from the expanding scale of the protest. Tsai therefore asked the government to increase communications and dialogues with the people on the trade agreement. Since late Tuesday, thousands of people -- mostly students -- opposed to the trade pact have laid siege to the Legislature. On Friday, Lin Fei-fan, one of initiators of the occupation movement, demanded the government withdraw the accord, a demand that was different from the students' previous request for an article-by-article review. Protesters are worried that the trade pact, which will open large parts of Taiwan's service sector to China and vice versa, will threaten the survival of Taiwan's small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as the livelihood of its workers, farmers and businesspeople. Tsai pointed out that an "item-by-item review" is rarely applied on the results of international negotiations. Only a "yes" or "no" vote would be adopted when deciding whether to ratify such negotiations, he said. Any attempts to change the content of a signed pact will lead to the whole agreement having to be renegotiated, Tsai said.

He added that no negotiations will produce only profits and no losses. "It is not possible for the other side to open its doors to Taiwan while we don't open ours," Tsai said. Meanwhile, the newly-elected chairman of the General Chamber of Commerce of the Republic of China, Lai Cheng-i, urged the occupants to withdraw from the Legislature to allow lawmakers to do their work. Lai said the industrial and commercial sectors of the country all want the trade pact to be ratified as soon as possible, adding that he believes the cross-strait trade accord will help Taiwan maintain its international competitiveness. (By Huang Chiao-wen and Elizabeth Hsu)

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