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    We should note that Taiwan is a democracy ruled by law and elections. It has a popularly elected president who has the responsibility to promote legislation in the interests of the majority of the people. A popularly elected legislature, meanwhile, is responsible for deliberating legislation in accordance with due process.

    On March 20, Republic of China (Taiwan) Premier Jiang Yi-huah called for a rational, peaceful and democratic response to the Cross-Strait Agreement on Trade in Services. He lauded citizens for their concern for public affairs while emphasizing the pact is beneficial to the country and that its review process is not a “black box operation.”

    Premier Jiang remarked in a statement that it is common for people in a free democracy to hold different views on public policies: “There are people who will either support or oppose a policy, but we will always open our doors to the critics and engage in constructive dialogue. We hope people of all viewpoints can come to the table in a democratic and rational fashion.”

    The pact includes a total of 80 specific commitments made by mainland China to Taiwan and only 64 by Taiwan to the mainland – many of which were in substance operational already. As for the degree of benefits, Taiwan will enjoy more favorable access to the mainland than other World Trade Organization (WTO) members, while mainland Chinese interests in Taiwan will be equal to or below WTO standards.

    Jiang stated that much of the criticism from certain media outlets is not factual but actually rumors, particularly those describing the pact’s signing as a “black box operation” or critiquing the agreement as harmful to Taiwan. Jiang refuted allegations that the accord has been handled behind closed doors. He stressed that the Legislative Yuan has held a total of 16 public hearings on the agreement since it was signed in June 2013, and the Ministry of Economic Affairs has joined with the Mainland Affairs Council and other agencies to organize over 100 forums to explain the pact to the public.

    “The passage of the agreement is not only crucial to the country’s future economic and trade competitiveness but also marks another important step toward liberalization and internationalization,” Premier Jiang said. “On the whole, the pact does more good than harm for Taiwan and is beneficial for economic development. A responsible government must stand firm and promote this important economic policy even in the face of opposition to the agreement’s signing and ratification.” According to current polls, over half of Taiwanese citizens back the accord, and Premier Jiang hopes for an even greater level of support in the future.

    He cautioned other political and civic groups not to take advantage of the situation to instigate further controversy for the sake of their own agendas, as it would only harm Taiwan’s democracy.