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June 23, 2017

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Businessmen in China urge passage of cross-strait pact

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Two associations of Taiwanese businesspeople in mainland China, one based in Shanghai and one in Beijing, yesterday urged the Legislative Yuan to pass the Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement as soon as possible.

Taiwan's government in 2013 signed the agreement with mainland China, and the pact was later submitted to the Legislative Yuan for deliberations. After holding more than 10 public hearings, the Legislature on March 12 and 13 scheduled to review the agreement. However, not a single article of the pact was reviewed as nonstop disputes and physical altercations occurred between ruling party and opposition lawmakers.

Chairman of the association of Taiwanese businesspeople operating in Shanghai Yeh Hui-te (葉惠德) said yesterday that he is worried and sad after watching TV news about the situation going on in the Legislative Yuan.

Lin Ching-fa (林清發), chairman of the association of Taiwanese businesspeople in Beijing, said the government has undergone all required procedures, noting that should the Legislature keep blocking the agreement, then Taiwan would lose its "chances."

Yeh said Taiwan's service industry is still ahead of mainland China for now, but circumstances would change. Taiwan would not take the leading role forever, he said.

Yeh went on to say that the service trade pact offers good opportunities to the small and medium-sized enterprises based in either Taiwan or China, noting that facing a strong competitor like South Korea, Taiwan should pass the agreement soon.

In addition, Yeh noted that he is worried about the progress of the agreement in the Legislature, and that he is also very sad that Taiwan's Legislative Yuan is operating this way.

Lin said until Wednesday, he still heard people on the TV news saying that they are worried that if the service trade pact is passed, hairdressers in Taiwan will lose their jobs. Lin said as the matter of fact, the agreement only allows business owners in China to come to Taiwan.

Lin said several Taiwanese businesspeople in 2013 formed a lobbying group to visit all legislative caucuses. The opposition caucuses told them that the problem was about going through all regulated procedures, Lin said, noting that however, the opposition caucuses still blocked the agreement after public hearings were held.

Lin criticized the opposition, saying that what they have said is different from what they have done. He stressed that if the pact continues to be stalled, Taiwan will be adversely affected.

Yeh was quoted by the Central News Agency as saying that an enterprise needs to transform to survive, otherwise, it will be eliminated by the market, noting that the same principle fit to the lawmakers.

Yeh further explained that if the legislators continue to waste taxpayers' money, then they will be eliminated by the next election. He said Taiwan is transforming its service industry, and there is only one opportunity, stressing that the country will lose the opportunity if the service trade pact continues to be stalled.

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