Taiwan raises cross-strait agreements threshold

Any potential political accord with China will need not only the approval of legislators but also of the people via a national referendum, according to a new amendment passed on May 31 by the legislature (NOWnews)

TAIPEI (CNA) – Any potential political accord with China will need not only the approval of legislators but also of the people via a national referendum, according to a new amendment passed on May 31 by the legislature (Legislative Yuan).

The bill, which adds a clause to the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, requires that a national referendum be held before any cross-strait political agreement, including a peace treaty, can be signed and put into effect.

The purpose of the bill is to allow the public to participate in and monitor agreements between Taiwan and China, especially after opposition Kuomintang Chairman Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said Feb. 14 that his party could sign a peace treaty with Beijing in accordance with the law if the KMT regains the presidency in 2020.

According to Cabinet spokeswoman Kolas Yotaka in late March, the push to get the amendment passed also came after a Jan. 2 speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) proposing the “one country, two systems” model for unification with Taiwan and calling for negotiations with representatives of various sectors in Taiwan on the issue.

In future, the government will have to submit any proposed political agreement with China, along with an assessment of its impact on Taiwan’s constitutional system, to the Legislative Yuan 90 days before starting cross-strait negotiations.

The bill also stipulates that such a proposal must be approved by at least 75 percent of legislators present at a meeting consisting of at least 75 percent of the members of the legislative body before negotiations can be started.

The authority responsible for cross-strait negotiations on such an agreement must conduct talks in accordance with terms of the proposal and report to the legislature.

If the legislature decides that the talks have not followed the proposal’s guidelines, it could demand a termination of the negotiations if voted on by at least half of the lawmakers.

If the Cabinet judges that such an agreement cannot be signed, it would also be required to halt negotiations and report on the situation to the legislature.

In order for any such political agreement to take effect, it would have to be passed by at least 75 percent of the lawmakers present at a meeting consisting of at least 75 percent of the members of the legislative body and would then need to be approved via referendum with the support of at least half of the electorate.

The draft bill also stipulates that negotiations on any political agreement should not include issues such as the status of national sovereignty, and the destruction, abandonment, damage or alteration of a democratic constitutional order.

On Friday, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Kuan Bi-ling (管碧玲) applauded the bill, saying that any future cross-strait political agreements must be thoroughly reviewed and approved by a majority of legislators, and also by the people of Taiwan before they can be signed. ●

By Chen Chun-hua and Ko Lin