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Legislative reports confirm ECFA with China risks for Taiwan

Posted by Author on July 29, 2010

The Taiwan News, July 29, 2010 –

The substantive risks to Taiwan’s national security, economic autonomy and democratic health posed by the controversial “Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement” with the authoritarian People’s Republic of China have been confirmed by reports drafted by the legal affairs and budget research departments of the Legislative Yuan.

Although the drafts have not yet been finalized, the nine reports are based on substantive research and investigation tours in both Hong Kong and Macau to examine the impact of the “closer economic partnership agreements” (CEPA) signed between the two PRC “special administrative regions” and the Beijing central government.

The preliminary results of the Legislative studies conflict sharply with the incessant attempts by President Ma Ying-jeou and numerous senior officials of his rightist Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) government to paint opposition to ECFA as “alarmist” or “ideological.”

Among the topics reviewed are the impact of the CEPA on social equity and employment, the economic impact of the revaluation of the renminbi, PRC economic policy toward Taiwan in the wake of the ECFA signing, the termination and conflict resolution mechanisms in ECFA, the economic impact of regional trade agreements focused on the ECFA, issues concerning the FTA between the PRC and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the question of rules of original production in regional trade agreements, the experience of Hong Kong and Macau in permitting Chinese students to study in the two SARs and the influence of the CEPAs on news freedom.

The existence of this study indicates that the leadership of the Legislative Yuan was preparing for a detailed and substantive review of the ECFA and was not planning to simply immediately refer the draft pact and four associated sets of legal revisions for immediate second reading, a decision that excluded article by article review and discussion in legislative committee.

The release of this report before July 9 could well have raised sufficient public concern to stymie the ramming of the referral of the ECFA package to a second reading over the physical objections of opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers, especially since its contents confirm that the issues raised by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and numerous economists were valid.

Warnings for the future

For example, unlike the Ma government, the Legislative Yuan report clearly warned that PRC leaders have historically displayed strategic “consistency” and “continuity” and acknowledged that Beijing defines the ECFA as a pact signed “under the one-China principle” and that the touted benefits in “international space” and “economic cooperation” are offered “under the precondition of the ‘one China principle.”‘

Moreover, the Legislative report cautioned that the PRC could adopt a negotiating strategy of “initially making concessions and then using such “benefits” to compel Taiwan to accept political negotiations” and use a possible “peace agreement” as an “peaceful unification framework agreement.”

However, unlike the Ma government, the Legislative report acknowledged that there were grave risks for Taiwan of falling into a ‘one China’ trap”‘ as political factors manifest an “invisible catalyst effect” and consolidate the PRC’s leadership advantage in promoting a substantive “one country, two systems” and creating the international impression that “Taiwan and the mainland have indivisible sovereignty.”

Ironically, PRC officials have already fulfilled the prediction by the Legislative Yuan report that Beijing would “uphold the one China principle” even with “more flexibility in interpretation” as shown by the affirmation by PRC Deputy Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng Monday that the ECFA was signed under the “one China principle” and that the PRC government continued to oppose any FTAs between Taiwan and any other country.

In sum, the reports by the legal affairs and budget offices of the Legislative Yuan confirm that concerns over the negotiation and structuring of the ECFA and its future economic, social, political and cultural implications and potential impact on Taiwan’s national security, sovereignty and democratic system (including news freedom) are absolutely not “alarmist” but should have been earmarked for consideration in the process of the negotiating strategy and the structuring of the ECFA…….(more details from The Taiwan News)

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