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June 28, 2017

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KMT urges opposition to come clean on China pact

TAIPEI -- The ruling Kuomintang (KMT) dared the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Thursday to make clear its position on a trade-in-services agreement with China as the main opposition party continued to block the KMT's attempts to get the pact reviewed in the Legislature.

Lin Hung-chih, chief whip of the KMT caucus, urged the DPP to stop claiming that "it wants an article-by-article review when in fact it is against the pact altogether."

For two days in a row, DPP lawmakers have prevented a joint committee session from taking place by blocking the elevators and doors to the meeting room.

The joint meeting of eight committees had been scheduled by Chang Ching-chung, a KMT lawmaker and convener of the Legislative Yuan's Internal Administration Committee, to review the service trade pact, which Taiwan signed with China in June 2013.

The DPP claims that the scheduling of the review goes against the conclusions of a committee meeting held March 24, in which it was decided that a new law to strengthen oversight of all future cross-Taiwan Strait deals should be enacted before any action is taken to move forward on the current trade-in-services agreement.

KMT lawmakers boycotted that meeting, which was convened by a DPP member, and do not recognize its results.

DPP lawmakers also said Chang should no longer serve as convener, given his March 17 declaration that the review of the pact was complete, triggering the storming of the Legislature the next day and the occupation of the main legislative chamber ever since.

Chang and the KMT caucus apologized earlier this week and said the committee review should begin in earnest.

In addition to Thursday's action by the opposition lawmakers inside the Legislative Yuan, there were attempts by the protesters to prevent ruling party legislators from entering the premises.

Several demonstrators who lay on the driveway in front of the entrance to the Legislative Yuan were removed by police.

Frustrated at this week's failed attempts to restart operations in the Legislature or move the review process forward, the KMT chief whip deplored the DPP action as "a display of democracy at its worst."

Lin said the DPP demands related to the review of the service trade pact have changed repeatedly.

DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said in the beginning that the party wanted an article-by-article review, said Lin.

Echoing the student-led protest movement's demands, the opposition party later demanded that the trade agreement be sent back to the administration and now it is saying that the law supervising all cross-strait agreements should be enacted before anything can be done with regard to the pact, he said.

Lin added that this is a clear indication of the DPP's lack of interest in a review and vote on the pact article-by-article, in spite of a consensus reached in consultations among the various party caucuses last June.

Lin challenged Su to come out and admit the DPP's opposition to the pact instead of paying lip service to a detailed review.

For his part, Chang, convener of the Internal Administration Committee, said the KMT will have to find another date to begin an item-by-item review of the agreement.

Even though the KMT enjoys a 65-seat majority in the 113-seat Legislature, both the KMT and the DPP can appoint a convener to each of its eight regular committees, with each convener presiding over meetings for one week at a time.

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