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Liberty Times: Why Taiwanese are against trade pact with China

2014/03/28 11:22:32

The ongoing occupation of the Legislative Yuan by student-led protesters has led Taiwanese society to begin seriously examining a trade-in-services agreement signed with China last June.

A survey conducted by the Liberty Times reveals that 75 percent of people are in favor of renegotiating the agreement, and 80 percent support a proposal to halt the pact's legislative process pending the enactment of a law to monitor the signing of all cross-Taiwan Strait agreements.

Meanwhile, 56 percent of people surveyed by Business Today oppose signing the pact with China, while 63 percent told TVBS that the government should withdraw the agreement from the Legislative Yuan, where its review has been stalled amid strong opposition.

Some foreign nationals do not understand why a mere trade agreement could have stirred up such a huge turmoil. They also wonder why students have to resort to an occupation to express their stance in a democratic Taiwan.

If the cross-Taiwan Strait pact was simply a bilateral agreement between two normal trade partners, it would not have met with such strong opposition from the Taiwanese people.

The fact is China is not a normal trade partner that Taiwan can deal with as a normal country, and the agreement is by no means an ordinary trade deal.

Chinese economist He Qinglian has described the pact as "the last paving stone" toward cross-strait unification and warned that the pact, if implemented, will bring Taiwan's economy under China's control.

Obviously, the agreement is an important step in Beijing's "unification by trade" strategy. It is both economic and political and also concerns Taiwan's security.

President Ma Ying-jeou, however, wants Taiwanese to treat China as a normal trade partner. In a news conference on March 23, he tried to ease people's worries over liberalization toward China, pointing to the examples of American franchises such as McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks that have also been allowed into Taiwan's market.

As a matter of fact, Taiwanese welcome not only these American restaurant chains but also companies from other places such as France, Hong Kong and Japan. The reason is very simple -- none of these countries hold any ambition to annex Taiwan.

Taiwanese dislike China because it is the only enemy country in the world with a known intention to take over Taiwan. (Editorial abstract -- March 28, 2014)

(By Y.F. Low)

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