TAIPEI: Taiwan’s Prime Minister Jiang Yi-huah said yesterday the government will not withdraw a contentious trade pact with China, rejecting calls from protesters occupying parliament to stop its ratification.
In the first direct dialogue between the government and protesters, Jiang walked to the parliament building surrounded by bodyguards as some protesters jostled and shouted “step down” in footage broadcast live on local television.
“The cabinet sent the service trade pact to parliament because we think it will help Taiwan’s liberalisation and internationalisation. We do not plan to withdraw (it),” Jiang told the crowd gathered on the streets outside.
Jiang added that he would however support a thorough article-by-article review of the pact by parliament, as some protesters shouted “send back the pact.”
The agreement is designed to open up further trade in services between China and Taiwan, which split 65 years ago after a civil war.
But the protesters say the deal will damage Taiwan’s economy and leave it vulnerable to political pressure from China, allegations rejected by President Ma Ying-jeou’s ruling Kuomintang party, which warns that failure to ratify the pact would be a grave setback in Taiwan’s efforts to seek more free trade agreements. AFP