04/03/2014, 00.00
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Taipei, government backs down on trade agreements with China

After 17 days of popular protests, the government has approved a law to monitor any future economic cooperation with Beijing. The "cross-strait pacts must be negotiated based on principles of equality, respect, mutual benefits and protecting national safety ". The draft is before Parliament.

Taipei ( AsiaNews) - After 17 days of protests led by the student movement, the Taiwan government this morning approved a draft law that requires the executive to monitor the economic and trade agreements that are concluded with mainland China. The proposed measures - which must now be examined by the Parliament - include procedures for public consultation and a mechanism to safeguard national security in the event of any future agreement with the neighboring country.

To youth protests were sparked by the Cross- Strait Trade Agreement Service (两岸 服务 贸易 协议) that Taipei is discussing with Beijing. It is the continuation of  the ECFA , Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement -(两岸 经济 合作 架构 协议) signed in 2010 with the goal of breaking the trade barriers between the island and mainland China. If the agreement is signed, the mainland will open 80 service sectors to Taiwanese investment while Taipei will allow mainland investment access to 64 sectors.

Many Taiwanese are concerned about the fate of small businesses, which may succumb to the impact produced by the commercial competitiveness of continental enterprises and youth employment that would be crushed by the competition of Chinese labor. The new decree requires the government negotiate agreements with China "on the principles of equality, respect, mutual benefits and protection of national safety".

The stalemate of the last days and the revision of the agreements underlines the growing skepticism of the Taiwanese population towards greater economic integration and trade with mainland China, one of the main objectives of the Nationalist government led by Ma Ying-jeou. Beijing is currently Taiwan's largest trading partner.


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