Premier Jiang presents plan for June economic conference
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-03 06:58 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Premier Jiang Yi-huah presented the government’s plans for a National Affairs Conference on economy and trade Thursday while rejecting the importance of the student occupiers’ proposal for a citizens’ constitutional conference.

According to preliminary media reports, the conference would take place in mid-June at the latest and be preceded by regional seminars beginning this month.

Holding the latter type of conference has been one of the key demands of students occupying the Legislative Yuan since March 18 in a protest against the trade-in-services pact with China, but the government’s plans have been rejected as too narrowly focused in favor of top businesses.

At a special news conference Thursday evening, Jiang outlined the key elements of his plans for a trade congress. He opened by saying that what the students wanted was not the kind of topic the public was interested in.

The people wanted to pay attention to issues of economic and trade development, Jiang argued. The issue was how Taiwan would face regional economic integration, according to the premier. “Should Taiwan participate in trade bodies such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership” and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership “or not, should it develop its trade relations with China or not,” Jiang said.

Jiang’s proposal reportedly won the support of economic and finance ministers and of former Vice President Vincent Siew, but not of the students, who see the present crisis as the result of President Ma Ying-jeou’s lack of authority and wrong policies.

The current stalemate was a constitutional crisis which needed more involvement from the public rather than guidance from top business leaders and economists, protesters said. They accused Ma and Jiang of only listening to suggestions from Big Business and of turning a deaf ear to the concerns of ordinary people, youths and workers.

The announcement of the plans for a national conference about economic and trade topics came after a flurry of activity all day long.

During the morning, Jiang’s Cabinet passed a version of the framework law to supervise trade negotiations with China, but it was severely criticized by student leaders as insufficient.

A sixth round of negotiations between legislative caucuses under the chairmanship of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng during the afternoon failed to find a way out of the impasse.

At around the same time, Ma met with his top advisers including Vice President Wu Den-yih and new National Security Council Secretary-General King Pu-tsung at the Presidential Office, reports said. The office denied media reports that at an earlier meeting, King had suggested the occupation of the Legislature should end after two weeks at the most and the United States should be asked to exert pressure on the DPP.

The KMT also took a more aggressive stance Thursday describing the occupation of the Legislature as undemocratic. The ruling party issued a seven-point statement including a call on Wang to help persuade the students to leave the Legislative Yuan.

On the opposition side, former Premier Frank Hsieh suggested a renewed campaign to launch recall motions against KMT legislators close to the president.

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