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China nixes reports of agreeing to renegotiate trade pact
Central News Agency
2014-04-11 11:34 PM
Beijing, April 11 (CNA) China on Friday denied reports that it would agree to renegotiate a cross-strait trade-in-services agreement, saying that the authority of the signed pact should be safeguarded, a spokeswoman of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) said Friday. "The so-called reports about the mainland agreeing to (renegotiating) talks have come out of nowhere and with a specific purpose in mind," said spokeswoman Fan Liqing. She was referring to a report in a Taiwan daily, the China Times, which quoted Zhang Zhijun, head of the Taiwan Affairs Office, as saying at the Boao Forum for Asia on Thursday that the recent student-led protests over the services pact had given him an inspiration. According to the report, the inspiration was the need to understand all about Taiwan's situation, especially "the thinking of grassroots people and small and medium-sized enterprises." Zhang said he hoped to visit Taiwan in the first part of the year, and if conditions permitted, to talk directly with Taiwanese students. An analysis accompanying the report had as its headline "Beijing may be able to renegotiate service trade pact, and balance out dividends." Fan said that Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and China's Association For Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) are the authorized bodies to conduct cross-strait negotiations.

The two bodies have engaged in talks in a responsible way and the agreements they reach "have promoted cross-strait exchanges and cooperation and brought bona fide benefits to peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait," Fan said. The trade-in-services agreement, which was signed in June 2013, remains stalled in the Legislature after nine months and numerous public hearings. It also sparked a 24-day occupation of the Legislature by student-led protesters that began on March 18 after a Kuomintang legislator tried to bypass a joint committee review a day earlier and send the agreement directly to a vote by the full Legislature. Proponents of the agreement see it as a necessary step to prepare Taiwan for regional trade pacts and give its businesses greater access to China's markets while critics say the agreement favors China and will give Beijing greater control over Taiwan's economy.

(By Lawrence Chiu and Lilian Wu)

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