Taiwanese legislators threaten to block cross-strait investment protection pact

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 13 August, 2012, 9:04am

Taiwan's opposition parties have threatened to block a newly signed cross-strait investment protection pact, saying it fails to address people's needs and expectations.

Legislators from the Democratic Progressive Party said on Friday they would not let the "highly disappointing" agreement be passed in the legislature.

"The pact not only fails to give full protection for Taiwanese people, but, even worse, it gives [mainland] China the right to demand that Taiwan open up further to Chinese investments," DPP's Chen Ting-fei said.

Another DPP legislator, Cheng Li-chun, said that when the legislature resumed meeting next month, they would have a "clause by clause" review of the pact and revise everything not in the interests of Taiwan and its people.

The long-awaited investment protection pact, which was supposed to have been in place two years ago, was finally signed on Thursday, during an eighth round of high-level talks.

According to the pact, signed by Chiang Pin-kung, who heads Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation, and his mainland counterpart, Chen Yunlin , of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, a mechanism is to be set up to solve disputes involving private businesses or individuals.

That mechanism could also be used to solve disputes over government appropriation of assets belonging to firms or individuals, and government-to-government commercial disputes.

But instead of having private business disputes settled by international arbitration, only mainland or Taiwanese arbitrators can be used, although the negotiations could be held elsewhere.

DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang (pictured) blasted that clause, saying that by denying Taiwanese firms the right to seek international arbitration, the mainland aimed to turn all such issues into "domestic issues", which served only to make Taiwan a "de facto colony".

Su also chided SEF negotiators for allowing the inclusion of a national treatment principle and a most-favoured-nation clause that would only pave the way for future mainland investment.

Huang Kun-huei, the chairman of the pro-independence Taiwan Solidarity Union, also questioned a 24-hour notification clause, saying he did not think it would stop the mainland detaining Taiwanese businesspeople, as evidenced by the arrest of a Taiwanese follower of the Falun Gong spiritual movement on the mainland in June.

The Kuomintang rejected the criticism, saying the DPP was trying to hurt the interests of Taiwanese businesspeople, who had long wanted protection of their safety and investments on the mainland.

Most businesspeople in Taiwan welcomed the long-awaited pact, saying it could help their investment plans on the mainland.

The agreement needs to be ratified by the legislative assembly.