Taiwan Speaker to Postpone China Trade-Pact Review

Taiwan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng said he will halt a lawmakers’ review of a trade pact with China until an oversight bill passes, in a concession to students who have occupied the legislature for 20 days over the deal.

Wang made the remarks, carried on local television yesterday, before visiting the students protesting what they said was the Taiwanese government’s move to push through the deal without proper review. Wang urged the students to end the occupation, according to Taipei-based broadcaster TVBS.

“We see and hear Speaker Wang’s goodwill,” student leader Lin Fei-fan said in comments aired on TVBS. “We’ll discuss the Speaker’s call for us to leave the chamber.”

The decision to postpone passage of the trade pact could help reduce tensions with the students, whose demonstrations reflect growing skepticism in Taiwan over greater economic integration with China. The cabinet last week approved a bill to monitor agreements with the mainland, including procedures for public consultations and safeguarding national security, which needs to be passed by lawmakers.

Student leaders have supported a separate oversight bill drafted by civic groups. A March 30 rally against the China trade pact negotiated by President Ma Ying-jeou’s government drew more than 100,000 demonstrators.

Foxconn Technology Group Chairman Terry Gou said in an e-mailed statement that he admires Wang’s wisdom and feels sympathy for the students. Gou, whose company assembles Apple Inc.’s iPhones at factories in China, called on the students and all political parties to learn to let go of their differences so Taiwan can move forward.

‘In the Dark’

Kuomintang legislative caucus leader Lin Hung-chih said ruling party lawmakers were “shocked” by Wang’s announcement as they were kept “totally in the dark,” according to comments broadcast by TVBS.

“I feel sold out by Speaker Wang,” Kuomintang lawmaker Alex Fai said in remarks aired by ETTV.

The opposition Democratic Progressive Party approves of Wang’s decision, Chairman Su Tseng-chang said in an e-mailed statement.

The services agreement, which follows 2010’s Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between China and Taiwan, was signed by trade negotiators in June and would open up as many as 80 industries including banking, brokerages, publishing and hospitals. The two sides have been ruled by separate governments for more than 60 years after a civil war.

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