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Premier Jiang defends cross-strait services pact

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday during the Cabinet's weekly meeting stressed that the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement is not a backroom deal and will bring positive effects to Taiwan.

Following hundreds of student activists who staged demonstrations in the Assembly Hall of the Legislative Yuan to protest the cross-strait service pact, the premier yesterday urged people to express their opinions in a reasonable and peaceful manner.

Jiang defended the agreement, saying that ever since it was signed in June 2013, the Legislative Yuan has held 16 public hearings; the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) and Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) as well jointly held over 100 introductions of the issue across the country.

The Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement specifies that mainland China will open 80 service sub-sectors, and Taiwan will open 64 service sub-sectors to each other, Jiang said, noting that many of Taiwan's 64 sub-sectors have already opened.

The sectors include those related to commerce, telecommunications, construction, distribution, the environment, health, tourism, entertainment, culture, sports, transportation and finance.

Jiang further noted that mainland China has given Taiwan a better commitment compared to other World Trade Organization (WTO) members in terms of the service sub-sectors that China will open to Taiwan. He said on the contrary, the service sub-sectors that Taiwan has committed to open to China are not up to par with the WTO's standards.

The premier said as for certain service sectors that might be affected by the agreement, such as the hair and beauty industries, the government has been communicating with the representatives of the industries over the past few months. The government has gradually gained the industries' support over the pact issue, he added.

Jiang said certain media outlets have been criticizing the agreement with false speculations by saying the pact is a backroom deal and is adverse to Taiwan. He said he appreciates for the MOEA for constantly holding press conferences to clarify the untrue speculations.

The services agreement is a necessary pathway for Taiwan to reach globalization and liberalization goals, the premier iterated, noting that its benefits far outweigh the disadvantages. Although there are disapproving voices out there, the government should firmly push this important policy in Taiwan, he said.

Government's Door Opens for Discussions

It is very common for a democratic country to have various opinions over any public policies, the premier said, noting that the government will always open its doors for people holding different ideas for discussions.

Jiang further said that it is positive for so many young students to express their opinions over public issues, noting that, however, the government hopes people can exchange their opinions in a mature and democratic manner.

Jiang, on the other hand, urged “certain” political parties or activist groups not to manipulate the circumstances to create more social conflicts, which in turn harm Taiwan's democracy.

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