Talk of the Day -- China defends trade-in-services pact with Taiwan
Central News Agency
2014-03-27 07:34 PM
Now that it has been more than a week since student-led protesters began occupying the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan March 18 to oppose the services pact with China, China's Taiwan Affairs Office has commented on the matter for the first time. Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the office, spoke of the possible upsides of the trade-in-services pact, signed in June but not yet ratified, while playing down protesters' concerns that it will hurt Taiwan's interests. The following are excerpts from reports in the United Daily News on China's first official response and the response of Chinese Internet users: Ma Xiaoguang said that Beijing has been closely following the situation in Taiwan and stressed that advancing cross-Taiwan Strait economic cooperation benefits the peoples on both sides. "I believe we and the compatriots on both sides of the strait feel the same -- we don't want to see the progress of cross-strait economic cooperation affected," he said of the protest in Taiwan at a news conference Wednesday. The spokesman for Beijing's top Taiwan policymaking body also downplayed some concerns voiced by Taiwanese citizens over the trade pact. Some worry about an influx of mainland workers to Taiwan, he noted, but that topic is not actually included in the services agreement. Taiwan has not opened its door to laborers from the mainland, he said. He also denied the rumors that mainland Chinese can immigrate to Taiwan for a fee of 48,000 Chinese yuan (US$7,710). The trade-in-services agreement is an economic pact, he said, adding that the two sides of the strait cannot leave themselves out of the process of regional economic integration. From mainland China's perspective, it is a mutually beneficial agreement, he said. As for why so many in Taiwan have opposed the agreement, Ma said "the answer must be found within Taiwan's domestic" society. The improvements in cross-strait relations over the past several years are a hard-won achievement, he said, adding that no one wants things to go back to the tensions that defined the relationship prior to 2008 (when President Ma Ying-jeou took office in Taiwan). While mainland Chinese news media has not covered the protest much, it has still drawn attention from many mainland Chinese netizens commenting in discussion forums. Some argue that the mainland made many concessions in the services agreement, and others say that Taiwan will lose its opportunity for further economic development if it refuses to open its market. Other Web users also criticized the protesters' opposition to the agreement as a bias against anything Chinese. (March 27, 2014) (By Elaine Hou)
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