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June 24, 2017

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MOEA open to debate on China pact

TAIPEI -- The Ministry of Economic Affairs is open to the idea of a debate on the controversial trade-in-services agreement between Taiwan and China, Deputy Economics Minister Duh Tyzz-jiun said Monday.

The ministry is not opposed to discussions if there is a suitable environment and opportunity, Duh said, responding to a local media report about a possible debate on the trade agreement between the government and academics opposed to the accord.

He added that the ministry would also invite other academics to such an occasion and examine the issues from an academic point of view.

The idea of a debate came from an Apple Daily report about a response made the previous day by Jang Show-ling, head of National Taiwan University's Department of Economics, to Economics Minister Chang Chia-juch's comments about academics, including her, in which he accused them of fear mongering about the pact.

Jang said she is not against Taiwan signing a service trade deal with China, but opposed to the deal being done under the table. She questioned whether the government has "told the truth."

Besides urging the public to read the text of the agreement and see for themselves if it is a good deal, Jang said that she and fellow academics will begin to respond to what she described as the government's smear statements issued to the media.

Meanwhile, Duh said the ministry is willing to travel to universities around Taiwan to explain the trade-in-goods pact currently being negotiated between Taiwan and China, as it did for the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) signed between the two sides in 2010.

He also noted the growing public interest in the service trade pact because of the escalating dispute over the accord, which led to protesters occupying the Legislative Yuan's main chamber since March 18.

The ministry saw a rise in the number of calls through its hotline set up for questions regarding ECFA and its subsequent accords, as well as downloads of the digital copy of the service trade pact available on the ECFA website, he added.

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