Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Block service trade pact, activists urge

Block service trade pact, activists urge

ADVERTISING TRAP:Activists said that advertising agents could influence a media outlet’s editorial output and the nation’s advertising market should not be opened

A group of activists yesterday urged opposition legislators to block the cross-strait service trade agreement, especially the sections that would open Taiwan’s advertising market to Chinese companies.
The activists, mainly from Taiwan Democracy Watch and the Democratic Front Against the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, proposed 100 changes to the pact and asked lawmakers to help introduce the proposals in the legislature.
They also suggested that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) adopt a filibuster strategy to prevent the agreement from clearing the legislature.
Taiwan Democracy Watch convener Hsu Wei-chun (徐偉群) accused President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration of attempting to make the legislature a rubber stamp for an “under-the-table deal” with China.
The government has not carried out a comprehensive assessment of the agreement’s possible effects on Taiwan and its people, Hsu said.
National Taiwan University Graduate Institute of National Development professor Liu Ching-yi (劉靜怡) said advertising agents could influence the operation of a media outlet’s editorial department by asserting direct and indirect pressure on the media outlet’s business department.
It is a matter of the greatest severity and yet the government is opening the nation’s advertising market to Chinese companies, without carrying out any market assessments and studies of the possible impact on freedom of speech and information, she said, adding that Taiwanese should therefore not agree to opening the nation’s advertising market to Chinese companies.
Taiwan Journalists chairwoman Chen Hsiao-yi (陳曉宜) said China has attempted to interfere with Hong Kong’s media covering through advertising. If Taiwan is to let Chinese capital enter its advertising sector, the nation would risk losing its press freedom, she added.
The agreement, which was signed in June last year, has been stalled in the legislature mainly due to objections from opposition lawmakers, who are concerned that it will hurt the nation’s interests.
Hoping to alleviate doubts and build consensus on the issue, the legislature has been holding a series of hearings on the agreement since September last year and plans to conclude them on Monday next week.
Ma has urged legislators to begin reviewing the agreement soon after the last hearing and approve the pact before the current legislative session ends in June.
However, the DPP’s Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁), a convener of the legislature’s interior affairs committee, said yesterday that the legislature would allow full discussion of all related issues and has not set a time frame for passage of the agreement

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