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DPP lawmakers demand renegotiation of pact with China (update 2)

2014/03/24 16:25:12

Taipei, March 24 (CNA) Reflecting the opposition's hard-line stance, a joint committee session dominated by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers passed a resolution Monday stipulating that a controversial trade in services pact with China be renegotiated.

The non-binding resolution adopted by the eight committees of the Legislative Yuan will now be considered by the full Legislature, in which the Kuomintang (KMT), which backs the trade agreement, is the majority party.

The committees also adopted another resolution condemning the Executive Yuan for using force to disperse student-led protesters who stormed the building Sunday night.

No KMT lawmakers attended the joint committee session, which was presided over by DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai.

Lin Hung-chih, a KMT caucus whip, described the DPP-scheduled session as "illegal and illegitimate" and insisted that the trade in services pact has completed its review process at the committee level.

Furthermore, committees have no power to reject the agreement and demand that it be renegotiated, Lin said.

The trade pact was signed by Taiwan and China last June but has been stalled in the Legislature mainly due to obstruction from the DPP-led opposition.

A review of the pact was delayed for nine months before being put on the committees' agenda for the first time on March 12, when legislators were supposed to consider the pact item by item.

Instead of engaging in any substantive discussion, however, legislators of the KMT and DPP, who are taking turns chairing the committees, have clashed and argued with each other over who controlled the podium whenever the committees were in session.

Amid the chaos, a KMT legislator presiding over the joint session of the committees on March 17 suddenly pushed the pact forward, declaring the conclusion of the review process at the committee level and sending the pact straight to a vote on the legislative floor.

The DPP has refused to recognize the KMT's decision and has scheduled another joint session this week to continue reviewing the pact.

The KMT move also triggered strong protests from opponents of the trade in services agreement, and a group of student-led protesters have occupied the Legislature's main chamber since breaking into the building on March 18.

Another group of protesters attempted to take over the Executive Yuan Sunday but were dispersed by police using water cannons.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Jay Chen and Y.F. Low)
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Related stories:
●March 24: Legislative speaker to meet with lawmakers over trade pact row
●March 23: Trade pact with China still under committee screening: speaker
●March 22: DPP schedules review of China trade pact; KMT vows boycott

(Click here for the latest on the ongoing protest and developments since the Legislature occupation starting March 18.)