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Students urged to know trade pact before expressing opinion

TAIPEI -- A professor at National Dong Hwa University (NDHU) in Hualien County, eastern Taiwan, said Sunday that college students should understand the contents of the trade-in-services pact with China before commenting on it.

Kao Charng, chairman of the Department of Public Administration of NDHU, made the remarks during a keynote speech at a seminar jointly held by his department and the Association of Foreign Relations, a civic group, on regional integration.

Noting that students opposing the trade pact with China have been occupying the Legislative Yuan since March 18 in an attempt to press the Legislature into rejecting the pact, Kao said that the rejection means returning the pact to the Executive Yuan, which will seriously damage Taiwan's international image and cast into doubt the country's credibility in talks with other trade partners.

He urged the students to learn about the issues involved in the trade pact and to think on their own rather than following blindly the opinions of others.

Kao's remarks were, however, were dismissed by students participating in the rally at the Legislature.

Kevin Chen, a 22-year-old student at National Taipei University of Technology, said he spent three days taking a close look at the terms of the agreement. Having participated in the rally at the Legislature, he expressed worries over its impact on Taiwan's small- and medium-sized enterprises if and when the pact takes effect.

Sura Yu, a high school student who has joined the occupation of the Legislature, also said that many of the student protesters have tried to get a grasp of the agreement before taking part in the movement.

Withdrawing the pact with China would not hurt Taiwan's credibility, Yu said, citing the example of South Korea and the United States restarting their negotiation of a free trade agreement.

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