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May 26, 2017

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NCCU holds lectures on cross-strait trade agreement

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Government officials and party representatives went to the campus of NCCU (National Chengchi University) yesterday in an attempt to discuss the controversial Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement with China, the first campus speech after the student-led protest rally at Ketagalan Boulevard on Sunday.

The trade pact presentation drew almost 3,000 students and professors, with many questioning the possible threat to Taiwan of the agreement with China.

Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Deputy Minister Lin Chu-chia (林祖嘉) said that Taiwan has already signed closer economic cooperation with other countries like Singapore and New Zealand, and plans to do so with India and Indonesia in the coming years.

"Taiwan seeks global markets, and China is just one of the important markets. Only by seeking closer ties with China can we reiterated the government's goal of joining the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)," he said, adding that China also will initiate Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations, an ASEAN-centered proposal for a regional free trade area.

Lin said that South Korea, a competitor of Taiwan, has signed many bilateral free trade agreements with the U.S., Europe and ASEAN.

"However, Taiwan is far behind Korea in the process of economic cooperation," Lin said.

Democratic Progressive Party Department of China Affairs Director Honigmann Hong (洪財隆) stated that the government wasn't concerned about the political factor of reunification that worried most Taiwanese.

Speaking about the regulations for Chinese investment, Lin said that the government would conduct a thorough review of Chinese investment.

Lin added that Taiwan wouldn't allow Chinese immigrants and laborers, but would allow managers or technicians.

Lin also pointed out that signing the trade in services agreement didn't mean it would be impossible to alter in the future. According to Article 17 of the service trade pact, the agreement can be edited after three years. In addition, Article 16 of ECFA says that Taiwan and China would have to hold negotiations within 30 days after a side gives written notice of its intention to terminate the agreement. Lin said that if there was a lack of consensus between the two sides, one side must wait 180 days before the pact could be terminated.

Minister of Economic Affairs Duh Tyzz-jiun (杜紫軍) said that the rising of China is the truth and that Taiwan should develop Chinese markets in a cooperative partnership.

Duh said that young people should develop competitiveness and face the global market, rather than maintain a closed country.

"China is not in a hurry, but Taiwan is in an urgent situation to face the global competitive market," said Chuang Yih-chyi (莊奕琦), dean of the NCCU College of Social Science.

Chuang pointed that Taiwan should not only negotiate with China but, more importantly, should enter into an economic integration zone through a cooperative partnership with China.

"Open markets are a necessary road toward economic integration ... However, the road is too slow."

He added that Taiwan can be a cushion for global markets entering China and change the fear of a rising China.

"We should not keep a passive role, begging China to let us into their market, but be the partner for building Asian economic cooperation."

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