Student protesters in Taiwan who occupied the parliament building for nearly three weeks have agreed to end their sit-in.
The students were protesting against a trade pact with China, which they said was struck with little transparency and which could jeopardise local jobs.
On the weekend, the Speaker of parliament promised legislators would approve a 'review mechanism' of trade agreements with China.
Sen Lam from Radio Australia interviewed Dr Roy-Chun Lee, Deputy Director of the Taiwan WTO Center.
Q. The Speaker of Legislative Yuan, parliament, has given the reassurance that nothing will happen until a law is passed regulating cross-strait agreements, until that law is put in place. What's your understanding, how is this going to work?
“Well first of all I think there's a lot of dispute about the sequence of measures that should be introduced in reviewing the services trade agreement between Taiwan and China. But at this moment I think the consensus is that we're going to have a legislation under a review mechanism before we put the trade pact under the legislative review.”
“I went to a public hearing yesterday held by the Legislative Yuan, which is the parliament in Taiwan, and I think there's a high consensus among the legislators as well about this sequence, that is the legislation first and review will follow.”
“Now the legislation itself there are now two versions on the table; one is proposed by the government and we have a counter proposal that's been put together by the group of students that are occupying the parliament now. So I think at this moment the next step is to converge, I mean eliminate the differences and converge these two versions of the legislation.”
Q. You mentioned consensus earlier. Will it have the support of all legislators, because I understand that even some MPs from the ruling Kuomintang, the ruling KMT, they were surprised by the Speaker's unilateral announcement on Sunday?
“That's right, that's the initial response from the ruling party KMT, even though the Speaker himself is from the KMT ruling party. But now he thinks that the Speaker is working out of the party rules and trying to become an impartial kind of resolution-maker in this event.”
“In any case the latest statement by the KMT, it just came out this morning, it is actually stating they will respect the decision of the Speaker and they will follow the steps. And they urge the Speaker, with his facilitation that the legislation can be passed as quickly as possible.”
“But I think by this morning I think the consensus, I mean even for the KMT, I think they support the idea of having the review mechanism legislation first.”
Q. If this new review law is enacted and if it's passed, do you think it might slow down future trade deals and negotiations with the mainland, with China, if everything has to be reviewed?
“ Well that depends on the content of the legislation, because there are two proposals now.”
“The government's proposal of course, it enhances the transparency, the level of transparency in the pre-negotiation stage, during the negotiation, and also it provides a review mechanism of any agreement that is concluded between Taiwan and China.”
“But the proposal that's put on the table by the students are more complicated. They require a much higher level of participation by the civil society, and also the parliament in the process of negotiation.”
“In any case of course the process will be delayed, but if there's a reasonable requirement by this legislation, I think the delay because you can see from this event that there's a lot of disagreement in the society in Taiwan about the speed, about the way we undertake negotiation with China. And that concern has to be addressed through this legislation.”
“So I think we're working out to find a balanced way to address both sides; that is the efficiency of a negotiation but also the concern from the society. So while there is delay, I think if it is reasonable, if it is within reasonable area, I think it will be supported by the majority of the people.”