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.[MT -- LT has it]
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.
On the contrary, the question of how the KMT government and authorized negotiators failed to effectively incorporate preventative or complementary measures to address such risks in the ECFA and what measures the KMT government and Taiwan private enterprises and civic organizations must take in the future to safeguard our quality and standard of life and our democratic independence will become even more salient and pressing in the future.
No less serious is the fact that the immediate referral to a second reading also blocks the holding of public hearings during which the public and related industrial and commercial associations as well as concerned labor, environmental, consumer and civic reform organizations could have provided citizen input.
Despite the obvious intent by the KMT to use its overwhelming legislative majority to avoid substantive discussion or debate of the ECFA accord and its implications, it is to be hoped that an upcoming "virtual review" of the pact by a coalition of civic reform and social movement organizations can at least raise important questions and provoke a serious response from the Ma administration.
Kyodo news wrote yesterday:
The joint report by the Budget Center and the Legislative Research Bureau is the first official document to suggest there are serious economic and security weaknesses with the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement -- in stark contrast to the enthusiasm with which government legislators greeted the deal on the legislative floor.The new Japanese Ambassador [to China] recently reiterated Japan's long-standing position that the status of Taiwan is undetermined, also the US position..... very interesting things going on.
The report is for legislators' eyes only and will not be publicly released, but a copy obtained by Kyodo News included extensive discussion of Beijing's goals and strategies in cross-strait detente.
It said the ECFA is a key element in China's attempt to achieve unification with Taiwan.
The legislative report said Beijing intends to use the ECFA to lock Taiwan's economy into a Chinese special economic zone and dramatically increase the island's dependence on China.
It contains little of the optimism of Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou, who has said the ECFA will encourage other states to sign free trade agreements with Taiwan by reducing the possibility of objections from Beijing.
The report said, however, that China's interference with future Taiwan FTAs ''not only carries sovereign implications -- intervention and obstruction being an expression of (China's) claim to sovereignty over Taiwan -- but also has the strategic goal of attempting an 'economic siege of Taiwan' and disallowing development of more intimate economic relations with other states.''
It said that the ''one China'' principle is the greatest obstacle to Taiwan signing FTAs, while national security will suffer from China's targeting of strategic industries and the financial system, as well as from the posting of Chinese officials in Taiwan.
Eventually, China hopes the ECFA and other incentives aimed at the Taiwanese public will force the government to start political negotiations, it said.
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