Students Occupy Taiwan’s Legislature to Protest China Pact

Students Occupy Taiwan’s Legislature to Protest China Pact
Trade Deal Is One of President Ma Ying-jeou’s Signature Achievements
JENNY HSU
Updated March 19, 2014 11:55 a.m. ET
TAIPEI—More than 1,000 students have occupied Taiwan’s legislature to protest the ruling party’s handling of a trade pact with China that has become a divisive political issue for the island.

Prepped with sleeping bags and food supplies, the university students broke into the main assembly hall in the Legislative Yuan building Tuesday night and then blocked the entrances with chairs.
Police carrying riot shields failed to disperse the protesters in three attempts. Hundreds more protesters gathered outside the building in the center of Taipei.
Still encamped Wednesday, the students said they planned to occupy the legislature either until Friday’s weekly session, when deliberations on the pact are expected, or until President Ma Ying-jeou and his Kuomintang (KMT) party agree to a review of it.
The trade pact, signed last year in Shanghai, is intended to liberalize cross-Strait investment. It is a signature achievement of Mr. Ma’s presidency and his policy of fostering closer economic ties between mainland China and Taiwan, former antagonists in the decades-old Chinese civil war.
But the accord has reignited long-standing concerns that Taiwan’s economy risks being hollowed out as more businesses and investments head to China. Many believe the computer and other tech companies that gave Taiwan its reputation for innovation have already lost their edge.
Opponents also fear that a growing reliance on China could undermine Taiwan’s democratic system.
Several rounds of negotiations between the governing party and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party over the past six months have resulted in a stalemate over how to review the pact.
The deliberations have ended in brawls, with lawmakers shoving each other and flinging coffee in the air. There was at least one biting incident. As a compromise, both parties consented to review the agreement line by line, instead of as a package. But the president’s party pushed the pact through a review by a legislative committee on Monday without any debate.
In an ensuing scuffle, the committee chairman, Chang Ching-Chung, announced that the review was complete and that the pact will be submitted to the legislature for a final reading.
“This trade pact will have a major and possibly irreversible impact on Taiwan’s industry, national security, and people’s livelihood. However, the populace was denied full participation in the review process. If the KMT is truly a law abiding party, then why did it backtrack on its pledge to review the pact line by line?” said Chen Wei-ting, one of the main student leaders.
KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih called the students’ actions illegal and said there is “absolutely no wiggle room” on the content of the pact and how it would be handled in Friday’s session.
Mr. Ma’s government has said the agreement won’t only spur more trade with China, Taiwan’s largest export market, but will also encourage more countries to sign similar trade pacts with Taiwan and boost its integration into the regional economy.
Opponents have argued that the benefits of the pact will be largely enjoyed by conglomerates and that by widening the door for Chinese investors, the small and medium-size businesses that are the backbone of Taiwan’s economy will be unable to compete.
Since Mr. Ma entered office in 2008, Taiwan and China have forged 19 agreements, including the establishment of direct flights, allowing mainland Chinese tourists to enter Taiwan and lifting the ban on cross-Strait investments by financial-holding companies.
Taiwan’s service industry accounts for more than two-thirds of the island’s economy. Giving mainland Chinese investors more access to it could boost growth annually by more than half a percentage point, according to Taiwan’s Bureau of Foreign Trade.
The island’s export-reliant economy grew 2.11% on a year-to-year basis in 2013 and is projected by the government to increase 2.82% this year.

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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