Taipei, March 22 (CNA) The legislative caucuses of Taiwan's two major parties expressed opposing views Saturday on how to handle a service trade pact with China at the center of a student-led protest that has shut down part of the country's parliament.
The caucus of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said it has sent out a notice for a committee review of the trade in services agreement signed with China in June 2013.
The joint session of eight legislative committees is scheduled for Monday in a committee room that has not been blocked by protesters who have occupied the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan since Tuesday.
The caucus of the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) said, however, that it will boycott the meeting.
The pact has already been submitted to the floor so it is out of the hands of the committee, said Lin Hung-chih, chief whip of the KMT caucus.
The proposal to hold more committee meetings to review the agreement is both unjustified and illegal, he said, adding that it is the position of the KMT caucus to conduct the review in floor sessions.
In a chaotic joint committee session on March 17, KMT lawmaker Chang Ching-chung, who is co-convener of the legislature's Internal Administration Committee and the presiding chair of that meeting, grabbed a microphone and announced the beginning of the session.
Soon afterward, he declared that the pact -- which he termed "an executive order" -- had passed its three-month review and would be sent to the legislative floor for reference.
Chang then called for the meeting to adjourn, catching opposition lawmakers by surprise. The move also led to the rally on Tuesday that turned into the storming of the Legislative Yuan and the occupation of its main legislative chamber.
Outside the legislative complex, thousands of protesters have staged a peaceful sit-in in support of those who have blocked themselves in.
The DPP lawmakers and their minority allies have insisted that the agreement has yet to receive an item-by-item review as agreed by party caucuses last June.
Chang's declaration is illegal, said Gao Gyh-peng, a DPP caucus whip. For the pact to receive an item-by-item review is the DPP's "bottom line," he said at a press conference.
KMT lawmakers have claimed that the DPP's true intention is not to hold a debate over the pact aimed at liberalizing the service trade industry but to prevent it from ever taking effect out of the party's anti-China ideology.
Related stories:●March 22: While favoring dialogue, Ma won't be forced into talks: official●March 21: KMT urges legislative speaker to coordinate over trade pact●March 21: Major parties talk tough as speaker seeks to end protest standoff●March 21: DPP mobilizes to support student protesters at Legislature●March 21: Speaker skips out on meeting, pressures president for action●March 21: Legislative session may be extended to July due to protest
(For the latest on the Legislature occupation, click here.)