No direct answer regarding ECFA future: China

Ma Xiaoguang is the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. (AP via NOWnews)
Ma Xiaoguang is the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. (AP)

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — In response to growing concerns regarding the future of the cross-strait trade agreement that took effect in 2010, Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光), spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council (國台辦) under People of Republic China (PRC), did not provide a direct answer on Wednesday.

The Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) is a preferential trade agreement signed between the governments of the Republic of China (ROC) and the PRC, aimed at reducing tariffs and commercial barriers.

In light of soaring tensions across the Taiwan Strait, many are concerned that China would unilaterally put an end to the trade agreement if President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) wins her reelection bid in 2020.

Speaking at a weekly press briefing, Ma did not give a clear answer on whether Beijing will take that initiative. Instead, he implied that President Tsai is responsible for impairing the cross-strait relationship, according to Chinese-language newspaper United Daily News (聯合報).

“It’s clear to the public who is working for the well-being of the people, while it’s also clear who is harming the people-to-people and business (relationships) across the strait,” Ma said.

As of June 2019, Ma pointed out that China had cut RMB 37.5 billion (NT$161 billion) in tariffs from Taiwan, adding that small and medium-sized businesses, as well as farmers and fishermen, are the ones benefitting from the ECFA the most.

Ma also expressed regrets for the failure of the follow-up trade agreement in services, which hasn’t been ratified by the parliament (Legislative Yuan), and the agreement in goods, which was never signed.

Ma stressed that these are the reasons the ECFA eventually failed to benefit more people.

By Carol Kan