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MAC signals U-turn on China trade pact
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-11 05:27 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In an apparent government U-turn, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi said Friday that if lawmakers eventually amended the trade-in-services pact with China, it could be necessary to reopen negotiations.

Ever since the accord was signed last June, President Ma Ying-jeou and his administration have insisted that not one iota in the document could be changed, not even if the Legislative Yuan moved to review and vote on each clause of the text.

The decision by Ma’s Kuomintang lawmakers to declare the review over after only 30 seconds on March 17 led to a 24-day occupation of the Legislature by student protesters.

Wang told a radio interview Friday morning that if the clause-by-clause votes by lawmakers meant the pact would have to be amended, the government could either decide to drop the accord completely or to renegotiate it.

China has kept a low profile by not commenting so far on whether renegotiation was possible, Wang said.

DPP spokesman Chang Chun-han said that if the MAC minister was prepared to renegotiate the trade pact, then the opposition party was happy to oblige. The DPP has been advocating a tighter monitoring mechanism since 2008 as well as a thorough review of the trade pact, he said. An eventual renegotiation was a demand of the student occupiers and of majority public opinion, according to Chang.

If the Ma Administration had followed those ideas from the start and allowed open and timely discussions of the trade agreement, the Sunflower Movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan would never have happened, the DPP spokesman said.

The government needed to protect common values and balance different interests, Chang said, adding that the president, who also serves as KMT chairman, should relax his grip on the ruling party’s legislative caucus and allow its members to represent public opinion.

The DPP spokesman said that because the Ma Administration had always taken such a hard line, more time was now needed to determine whether Wang’s comments meant it was changing its attitude toward handling the trade pact issue.

On Thursday, Wang made some positive comments about the student protesters’ version of a package of guidelines to monitor talks with China, including its provisions for temporary reviews and more open proceedings. However, he still criticized the proposals because they could scare away negotiators if their concessions during trade talks were challenged in court, reports said.

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