Trade protest shames Taiwan democracy

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-3-20 23:43:01

Hundreds of people, mostly university students, entered the main assembly hall inside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei on Tuesday night in protest at the ruling party's push for a trade pact with the Chinese mainland which was signed in June last year and is being deliberated.

Su Tseng-chang, Chairman of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, and Tsai Ing-wen and Hsieh Chang-ting, candidates for the next leadership, have supported the students' protest. The Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement is an important trade pact for carrying out the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement between the two sides. It is aimed at benefiting both. The concession by the mainland is undeniable, as it has opened more service sectors than Taiwan.

Many protesters do not know enough about this trade pact. Some claim that Taiwan authorities didn't sufficiently communicate with the public and are protesting against the secret negotiation process. It is almost a rule that one's cards are only revealed at the last minute on the negotiation table. Nearly all trade negotiations have to undergo such a "black-box" process. It is impossible to make all Taiwan people understand the content of the pact.

Obviously, someone is behind this protest. Last July, Taiwan signed a free trade agreement with New Zealand, which has been proceeding at a rapid pace. Some people said if the service trade agreement had been signed with a party other than the mainland, there wouldn't have been such a backlash.

The mainland should just sit and watch. It boasts a huge market with enormous potential and its free trade negotiations have spanned the globe. It has never thought of taking advantage of the Taiwan market. If Taiwan wants to exclude itself from the mainland market, we should just let it go.

If Taiwan does not push forward an open trade policy, its economy will suffocate. This "Occupy the Legislative Yuan" movement is filled with populism and political exploitation of populism. The Democratic Progressive Party doesn't care about the island's economy. There are fewer points that anti-mainland forces can make a fuss about and they can only resort to fooling around.

The Taiwan-based China Times commented that the occupation of the Legislative Yuan is "a shame to democracy," which could not be more correct. The opposition party refuses to obey the rules of parliamentary politics and the ruling party doesn't dare to protect the Legislative Yuan. Taiwan's rule of law is paralyzed at the moment.

Taiwan has been reminded of the crises in Thailand and Ukraine. But in a society where interests and stances are divided and in conflict, it is not known if such warnings will be of any use.

The mainland has been dedicated to promoting Taiwan's development to bridge the gap between the two sides. But we needn't be too effusive. The mainland should keep its dignity and reservation as an economic giant.

A political drama within and outside the Legislative Yuan is taking place, in which populism has been kidnapped by extreme ideas. The mainland is just a calm spectator.

Posted in: Editorial

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