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June 23, 2017

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Cabinet version of draft oversight bill constitutional: Jiang

TAIPEI--Premier Jiang Yi-huah said yesterday that the Cabinet's draft of a bill for overseeing cross-strait agreements is in line with the country's Constitution, a dismissal of a competing version proposed by members of the public and an opposition lawmaker.

Speaking at a Cabinet meeting, Jiang criticized the draft put forward by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu because Article 2 of her draft refers to the governments of Taiwan and China as the Republic of China and People's Republic of China, respectively -- a distinction that he said violates the Constitution by establishing a state-to state relationship between the two sides.

The Cabinet's version, by comparison, defines cross-strait agreements as any between the two claimed areas of the ROC, the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area according to the Constitution, though the government in Taipei exercises no actual control over mainland China.

That is in line with President Ma Ying-jeou's administration stance that China is not a foreign country for Taiwan, as cross-strait relations are not considered state-to state ties.

Jiang argued that passing Yu's version would instigate a constitutional debate and could hinder the progress of cross-strait relations. It also blurs the line between the separation of powers of the executive and legislative branches of government, he said.

If lawmakers were allowed to participate in negotiations of pacts with China, as Yu's version stipulates, it could impede the Executive Yuan's constitutional authority to make policy, including the inking of pacts with other countries and economic entities, Jiang contended.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi stressed the Cabinet version promises greater public and legislative oversight over pacts and better communication with the public in a way that he said does not hamper the development of their ties.

He added however that the government recognizes the efforts from Yu's and other proposed versions to bring more comprehensive assessments before the signing of pacts and regular examination afterward.

The version promoted by Yu was drafted by members of the public led by the student protesters who had been occupying the Legislative Yuan for over three weeks.

The protesters were expected to leave the Legislature's main chamber later Thursday now that their draft has been presented.

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