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June 29, 2017

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Government willing to explain cross-strait agreement: minister

TAIPEI--Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) took to the airwaves Tuesday to defend a controversial trade in services pact with China, amid ongoing demonstrations that have led to the occupation of the Legislative Yuan by student-led protesters.

In an interview with UFO Radio, Chang said the government will not resist opportunities for dialogue with any professors or student organizations.

"If students are interested and are willing to calm down and listen, the Economics Ministry can send people to schools to brief them in detail," he said.

Chang again rejected allegations that the terms of the agreement are unfavorable to Taiwan.

Under the agreement, China will open 80 service categories to Taiwan, and all the commitments China made to the World Trade Organization will also apply to Taiwan, he pointed out.

By comparison, only some of Taiwan's WTO commitments apply to China, he said.

The minister also disagreed with critics who have likened Taiwan to Hong Kong, which is perceived to have suffered due to trade liberalization with China.

He said Taiwan has imposed much stricter restrictions on Chinese investment than Hong Kong and promised that after the agreement takes effect, the government will properly supervise and regulate investment projects by Chinese companies.

To cope with the possible impact of trade liberalization on Taiwanese companies, the government has budgeted NT$98.21 billion to provide assistance to affected companies, he added.

Chang gave the rare interview after Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) asked Cabinet members in a recent meeting to be more proactive in explaining and defending government policies.

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