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May 29, 2017

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Jiang meets with demonstration leader

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) paid a visit to student protestors at the Legislative Yuan yesterday and stressed that the government will not revoke the cross-strait service trade agreement as it is crucial to Taiwan's economic liberalization efforts.

With a police escort and in the company of Education Minister Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧), Premier Jiang visited the Legislative Yuan yesterday to speak with activists gathered at the scene.

Jiang said that he had come to the activists' gathering after hearing some untruthful rumors, such as that the government intends to employ tear gas to disperse students. There was also talk that the service trade agreement will result in job losses. Jiang said he was deeply upset about these rumors and felt an obligation to explain.

As Jiang tried to speak to the students, he was interrupted by gathering activists' loud slogans of "revoke the service trade agreement." He shot back by asking "should we stay at the stage of providing only one answer to every problem?" It appeared that Jiang was not impressed by students' refusal to listen, resuming his speech after protest representative Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) asked the activists to calm down.

During Jiang's speech, Lin again interrupted and demanded that Jiang promise to revoke the service trade agreement. Jiang pointed out that the purpose of his visit was to explain the nature of the service trade agreement. Jiang indicated that he respected the position of students, though he did not agree.

Pushed by Lin, Jiang said that the government does not intend to revoke the service trade agreement, since the pact is part of the government's effort to make Taiwan's economy more liberalized. Jiang also said that he hopes the Legislature will be able to review the pact.

Don't Reject Everything about Mainland China: Jiang

While the two opposing sides at the scene failed to reach a consensus, Jiang maintained a smile on his face all the while, enjoying occasional applause by the end of the talk. After Jiang's departure, they called on President Ma Ying-jeou to answer their request to revoke the trade agreement.

After the visit at the Legislative Yuan, Jiang returned to the Executive Yuan to hold a press conference in which he called on Taiwanese "not to reject everything about China." By doing so and not working with China, it will jeopardize Taiwan's chances of integrating into the global economy and consequently harm Taiwan's competitiveness. The service trade agreement will also create 12,000 job opportunities in Taiwan, Jiang pointed out.

In the press conference, Jiang said students are concerned about national issues. However, he cannot approve of the students intruding into and occupying the Legislative Yuan, and he is very upset about their damaging public property while paralyzing normal proceedings. Jiang called on students to leave the Legislature and respect normal democratic operations.

A Complicated Issue: Speaker

Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said yesterday that the Legislature's duty was to review conclusions reached by the relevant committee and then either reject or approve the decision.

Under normal procedures, the Legislature will not go over the service trade agreement again, Wang said. If the Legislature returns the trade agreement back to the committee, it will become an even more complicated problem, he added. The Legislature is trying hard to establish a consensus across parties in order to resolve the issue, Wang said.

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