Taiwanese show guarded acceptance of China pact

TAIPEI Sat Jun 5, 2010 11:57am EDT

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TAIPEI (Reuters) - The low turnout at a demonstration in Taiwan on Saturday against a trade pact with China pointed to broad but guarded acceptance of the deal by the Taiwanese public.

The 10,000 who attended Saturday's demonstration in the southern city of Kaohsiung, an opposition stronghold, fell far short of the 50,000 to 100,000 who rallied in previous years against overtures to Beijing by the China-friendly Taiwanese government.

Political analysts said the size of the protest, a month after a sit-in in Taipei attracted only a few hundred, was an indication that Taiwan's public accepted the deal, wanted to know more details or believed the government was deaf to protests.

The pact with China, known as the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA), is expected to boost the island's $390 billion export-led economy.

Stronger opposition, and possible delays to the pact as a result, would cool Taiwan markets which are otherwise expected to firm on prospects of stronger ties between Taiwan and economic powerhouse neighbor.

Analysts say much of the public wants a deal of some kind and is keeping quiet until the details and effects become clearer.

"You're shooting a very vague target through a dense fog," Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei, said of the protests. "And at the bottom of your heart you want a better Taiwan and a better economy."

The ECFA would boost about $100 billion in annual two-way trade by reducing tariffs on 300 items, but some Taiwanese fear it would flood the island with cheap Chinese goods, costing Taiwanese jobs, or lead to a dependence on political rival Beijing, which claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan.

An official of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which organized Saturday's demonstration, said some of those attending were more concerned about the rejection by Taiwanese officials of a petition to hold a referendum on the ECFA than because of the deal itself.

"The opposition has a tough time selling the idea that ECFA is a bad thing for Taiwan per se without knowing what is being discussed and included," said Raymond Wu, managing director of the Taipei-based political risk consultancy e-telligence.

(Editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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Comments (5)
Formosa wrote:
Apparently, the reporter is not aware of the recent poll result indicating 44% against ECFA while 46% support ECFA (+/- 3% error), but 58% support the referendum of ECFA. When a reporter is not even aware of local intelligence but made such a statement as ‘guarded acceptance’, I wonder how he can justify his statement. After Ma took over the government, Taiwanese realized that Ma does not deliver his promises, and will use their votes to show their approval of Ma’s decisions. Wait until the end of this year, you will know the credibility of this article.

Jun 05, 2010 6:14pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ajsfca wrote:
I believe the Kuo Ming Tong are clinging to fantasy if they think they somehow still have a chance of becominging the ruling party of China again. Taiwan independence is the righteous path to freedom for the Taiwanese people, not dominance by and subservience to the Chinese communists.

Jun 06, 2010 5:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MightyAl wrote:
First of all, the reason why we didn’t join the ECFA demonstration was because the largest one will take place on June 20th. So far they were just small ones that won’t have any effect on the decision.

As you also mentioned, the government is deaf to the people of Taiwan. All they care about is how the corporations that they have interests in will benefit. That’s how the KMT works. Money for the rich, and who cares about the poor.

Secondly, you’ve got to be daft to actually believe that ECFA will improve Taiwan’s economy. China has the upper hand on the entire pact. China can even decide how many Chinese will travel to Taiwan, while Taiwan can simply bow and say “ok”.

They won’t even allow Taiwan to sign FTAs with other countries once the deal is signed.

What’s more, the KMT controlled referendum committee the other day undemocratically rejected an ECFA referendum application signed by the nearly 190,000 Taiwanese.

Why are they so eager to have ECFA signed and so quickly? Why are the US and the EU so supportive of it? Why doesn’t the western news ever talk about the rejected referendum?

Who will truly benefit? I know, our household will, but we care more about the survival of Taiwan as a democracy than about putting the farmers in the street.

Jun 06, 2010 8:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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