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China pact protest may create doubt for trading partners: ex-AIT head

WASHINGTON -- The recent upheaval in Taiwan over the trade-in-services agreement with China could sow doubts among Taiwan's trade partners, a former head of U.S. policy toward Taiwan cautioned Wednesday.

“It's important for Taiwan to reassure other trading partners that the commitments that its negotiators made during negotiations can actually be ratified within Taiwan's domestic political system,” said Richard Bush, former chairman and managing director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the U.S. agency in charge of Taiwan affairs, between 1997 and 2002.

Speaking after a seminar on the Taiwan Relations Act, the director of Washington-based Brookings Institution's Center for East Asia Policy Studies said there may be some doubts about Taiwan's willingness to commit to pacts it signs after the massive student protest that started mid-March.

Dubbed the Sunflower Movement, the student protest reflected a general fear of Taiwan's increased economic engagement with China, he said, and the Taiwanese people now have some tough choices to make if they want to avoid marginalization in the global economy.

He also expressed concern over the methods employed by the student protesters, who occupied the Legislative Yuan from March 18 to April 10, largely grinding lawmaking activities to a halt.

The view among mainstream scholars is concern about what such a movement means to Taiwan's democratic institutions, he said.

Douglas Paal, a vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which organized the seminar, said he believes the U.S. government does not welcome the disruption of the Legislative Yuan's operations.

“Any threat to Taiwan's institutionalized democracy should be undertaken very, very carefully,” said Paal, who served as director of the AIT's Taipei office from 2002 to 2006.

Paal said Taiwan has a competitive advantage in the service sector and needs to penetrate the Chinese market if it wants to spur economic growth and create more jobs.

Taiwan is well positioned to maintain dominance in the industry, but China may be able to catch up and surpass Taiwan if no action is taken, he cautioned.

The issues surrounding the service trade agreement should be discussed on a realistic and economic basis instead of a political one, he said.

April 18, 2014    billparkhurst@
Bush is such an ass. The whole point of the backlash against the agreement was exactly that the big players were getting a better deal while the majority of small business in Taiwan would suffer the consequences. He is among those who favor control by the few over the many economically and politically.. with of course eventual Chinese control of Taiwan.
April 18, 2014    Mordrake@
Now the President is calling for an open debate on the issue - and guess what - the student/DPP faction have hitherto remained tight-lipped and look like shying away from the challenge.

Is this not proof that their stance has no substance? - One that cannot stand up to rationale debate. What are they afraid of? Public opinion? Instead they lie to us through some cooked-up opinion polls while supporting mob rule. It’s the DPP who will really 'sell-out' Taiwan - that's why the hardliners in Beijing love them - they feed their very raison d'etre.
April 18, 2014    japarchwitz@
According to the American representative in Taiwan, the controversies about the pact will, on the contrary, not have an impact on other trade agreements, such as Taiwan's participation in the TPP free trade:

http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/national/national-news/2014/04/11/405042/Pact-dispute.htm

On the contrary, controversies and renegotiations are absolutely normal for free trade agreements, for example, the agreement between the US and South Korea was negotiated for five (!) years before its ratification:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_trade_agreement_between_the_United_States_of_America_and_the_Republic_of_Korea
April 18, 2014    kingsolomon@
That was democracy, Taiwan style, courtesy of the DPP, the DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY. The selection of the word PROGRESSIVE seems to be the opposite of their actions. The appropriate word would be "REGRESSIVE". Maybe they got the meaning of the word interchanged.
April 18, 2014    nuttyazn@
I don’t see anyone complaining about any other trade pacts other than the one with the PRC. Mr. Paal has a very Pro PRC leaning and The ROC is always wrong as far as he is concerned.
The ROC should not be passing on anymore Tech or Agro secrets to the PRC but keep it all here in The ROC. It will be difficult for the PRC to catch up if they don’t know how.
on a realistic and economic basis instead of a political one" Who is he kidding, Any Pact with the PRC is a Political Issue.
April 18, 2014    unholy2night@
Mordrake@ wrote:
Now the President is calling for an open debate on the issue - and guess what - the student/DPP faction have hitherto remained tight-lipped and look like shying away from the challenge.

Is this not proof that their stance has no substance? - One that cannot stand up to rationale debate. What are they afraid of? Public opinion? Instead they lie to us through some cooked-up opinion polls while supporting mob rule. It’s the DPP who will really 'sell-out' Taiwan - that's why the hardliners in Beijing love them - they feed their very raison d'etre.
What if someone eventually stand up to debate? Will you apologize for your statement? And I wonder how can opposition to trade pact negative to our country be 'sell-out'. And last, you probably are the only one who thinks Beijing loves DPP.
April 18, 2014    Jack711@
kingsolomon: BOOOOORING!!
April 18, 2014    paul@
For the US, defending Taiwan and having Taiwan as our strong ally are of utter importance for our national security. Losing Taiwan means at least the anti-terrorist network or intelligence is broken significantly.

Most important of all, losing Taiwan means Korea, Japan, the Philippines are in danger. This means the mainland US is directly exposed to the threat of PRC with dwindling defensive power other than those on the islands of Hawaii and so on. The US should be cautious of PRC’s ambition of conquering Taiwan and expansion and curbs Chinese influence on our politicians. Do not let China buy our national security through money and its influence on our press, academics and politicians.
April 18, 2014    taiwanindependencenow@
This is exactly the problem with those Democrat fa*****. If the freedom-loving and democratic Republicans are in charge now, the United States would have safeguarded Taiwan's sovereignty and democracy by supporting the student movement against the chinks. LONG LIVE THE SUNFLOWER STUDENT MOVEMENT! LONG LIVE THE DEMOCRATIC PROGRESSIVE PARTY! LONG LIVE TAIWAN INDEPENDENCE! LONG LIVE THE REPUBLICAN PARTY! LONG LIVE DPP-REPUBLICAN PARTY SOLIDARITY! LONG LIVE THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!
April 19, 2014    queensheba@
kingsolomon@
BOOOOORING….
April 23, 2014    lightcrusaderjr@
The KMT and the DPP should learn to work together in a more transparent and constructive way to inspire confidence among Taiwanese as their representatives. The action of the students has been justified by the dysfunctional way by which the Legislative Yuan was conducting its affairs and things came to a boil when the promised article by article review of the Trade in Services Agreement did not materialize, but was replaced by the "30 second approval process". China is also not inspiring confidence among the ordinary Taiwanese because it maintains its war footing against Taiwan. What with all those missile still aimed at Taiwan? How can the relationship progress to a higher level of cooperation when many Taiwanese think that there is always a hidden agenda behind all these negotiations other than the promotion of peace and prosperity? China's aggression towards other countries in the region to secure more resources only for its benefits further sows distrust not only among Taiwanese, but also among other peoples of the region. The super powers should adjust their ways of dealing with weaker countries if they expect a continuing peaceful rise and cooperation with the rest of the world. We all could not enjoy progress if they keep trying to exploit the weak. They should promote real and respectful partnerships instead.
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 Tsai registers for DPP chair election, urges generational shift 
A panel of former executive officials of the American Institute in Taiwan William Brown, left, Richard Bush, center left, Barbara Schrage, center right, and Douglas H. Paal, right, attend “The Taiwan Relations Act After 35 Years” seminar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. (CNA)

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