Jiang defends national affairs conference

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By Lauly Li ,The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) told a press conference yesterday that the government-convened national affairs conference on trade and economics will focus not only on the issue of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement but also the issue of how Taiwan will approach its economic development in the future. To further explain why the Cabinet chose not to convene a citizens’ conference on the constitution as proposed by student activists, Jiang said that the service trade pact and the on-going Cross-Strait Trade in Goods Agreement negotiations would both influence Taiwan’s bids to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Jiang went on to say that considering the great challenge of regional economic integration that Taiwan is currently facing, it is more appropriate to convene a national affairs conference on trade and economics rather than to discuss long-stalled constitutional issues.

The premier said that although the four demands raised by student activists include urging the government to convene a citizens’ conference on the constitution, however, on April 2 students claimed that the Ma administration had lost its legitimacy to convene such conference. “We really don’t know how to respond to such a demand,” Jiang said.

Conference Schedule The premier said the National Development Council (NDC) will be in charge of convening the conference, noting that Northern Taiwan, Central Taiwan, Southern Taiwan and Eastern Taiwan will each convene district conferences between late April and mid-May.

After collecting opinions from the four district conferences, the national affairs conference on trade and economics will convene in early June, Jiang added.

The premier went on to say that representatives from industries, academics, government officials, civic groups and political parties will be invited to participate in the conferences. The Cabinet also welcomes students recommended by civic groups, he added.

Jiang said all conferences will be streamed live via the Internet to let more people witness the transparent discussions about Taiwan’s economic future.