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Government considering conference on trade and economics

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday requested the National Development Council (NDC) to assess the feasibility of organizing a national affairs conference on trade and economics.

The result of the assessment will be finalized before Thursday at the earliest and be released to the public, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said.

Following President Ma Ying-jeou's announcement of the drafting of a bill to legislate the cross-strait agreement supervisory mechanism, the Executive Yuan is also expected to review the draft bill proposed by the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) during the Cabinet's weekly meeting on Thursday, Sun said.

The draft bill will be sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation if approved by the Cabinet, Sun added.

At noon yesterday, Sun told local press that the Executive Yuan will assess the feasibility of holding a citizens' conference on the constitution as proposed by student activists who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan. However, two hours later, instead of offering further information regarding the students' proposal, the Executive Yuan released a press statement saying that a national affairs conference on trade and economics will be considered.

Sun later explained to local press that the idea of holding a national affairs conference on trade and economics was a response from President Ma and Jiang to industry groups' requests.

When asked by reporters why the Executive Yuan would not respond to student activists' request to hold a citizens' conference on the constitution, Sun said the reason was because cross-strait trade and economic interactions and international economic regional integration are the issues that Taiwan faces, therefore convening a national affairs conference on trade and economics is more appropriate.

At Sunday's mass rally, student activist Lin Fei-fan reiterated the protesters demands, including urging the government to legislate the Bill on Pacts between Taiwan and China — a draft bill proposed to supervise the signing of agreements with China. The student activists also demanded a citizens' conference on the constitution to be convened.

Last Saturday, Ma said that the government will institutionalize a four-phase mechanism proposed by the ruling party in February to supervise the process of signing agreements with China.

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