Hundreds Of Thousands Take To The Streets Of Taiwan To Protest Against Trade Agreement's Lack of Scrutiny

from the sound-familiar? dept

One of the key problems with both the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is the lack of scrutiny. Both deals are being negotiated in almost complete secrecy, with very little information being released officially. The justification for this, such as it is, is that the public will have a chance to see the agreements once they are finished, and that this is the appropriate time for transparency. The emptiness of that promise has been shown by the Polish Ministry of Economy’s reply to some questions from the Modern Poland Foundation:

all the information the EU member states obtained from the European Commission is classified and it is not possible to pass it on outside the state administration. This also concerns the Foundation’s request to access the text of the chapter on IPR and the Polish stance in this matter.

In compliance with the EU practices, the text of the treaty will be made available only in the final stage of the negotiations, after the signing of the document by both parties.

As that makes clear, the public will only get to see TTIP after it has been signed, when it can no longer be changed. The European Commissioners’ idea of transparency turns out to be a cruel joke at the expense of the public that pays their not-inconsiderable salaries.

However, TTIP and TPP are not the only trade agreements being negotiated behind closed doors. Another has been concluded between China and Taiwan, with a similar lack of scrutiny. In scenes that recall the demonstrations across Europe when people found that they had no power to change ACTA, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Taiwan’s capital city, Taipei:

Large crowds of demonstrators took to the streets of Taipei to protest efforts by the government to approve a trade pact with Beijing and show support for the students who have occupied Taiwan’s legislature for nearly two weeks.

Organizers estimated that at least 350,000 people were gathered, as of 2 p.m., on the streets around the Presidential Office Building to express discontent over a pact that would open up dozens of service fields to cross-strait investment. Police counted 116,000 demonstrators by 4 p.m., according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency, while some television news stations put the number as high as 700,000.

As the New York Times article quote above explains, a key complaint is the fact that there would be no meaningful scrutiny:

While many demonstrators are opposed to the service trade pact, the most widely held complaint was that the measure has not been sufficiently examined. A poll before the occupation of the legislature indicated that more than 70 percent of respondents supported a line-by-line review of the pact.

That line-by-line review is precisely what granting “fast track authority” to the White House and USTR would make impossible for TPP and TTIP; instead, Congress would have a single “yes” or “no” vote on whether to accept one or both.

The ACTA demonstrations in Europe led to the agreement being rejected by the European Parliament two years ago; now it looks like the Taiwanese authorities have also admitted defeat:

On Saturday, [Taiwan’s President] Mr. Ma attempted to respond to some of the students’ demands, saying he would back an itemized review of the trade pact and a law that would allow the legislature to more closely monitor agreements with Beijing.

In the light of the massive protests that swept through Europe in 2012, and those now filling the streets of Taipei, both of which were triggered by the refusal to allow any meaningful scrutiny of trade agreements that would have major consequences for everyday life, the question has to be: do the USTR and European Commission really want to run the risk of repeating that experience by pushing through TPP and TTIP in exactly the same undemocratic manner?

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Comments on “Hundreds Of Thousands Take To The Streets Of Taiwan To Protest Against Trade Agreement's Lack of Scrutiny”

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ysth (profile) says:

the USTR and European Commission?

Color me disillusioned. I doubt the USTR has any need to fear large demonstrations in the street.

I used to wonder just what it would take to get hundreds of thousands to turn out in the streets in the US; this year, living in Seattle, I learned the answer 🙁

Just hope the Europeans rescue us from our folly.

David says:

Re: the USTR and European Commission?

It is much easier to get hundreds of thousands of people on the streets to celebrate Independence Day than it is to get them out in defense of their independence.

But then we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ with red-coated bearded old men, and his return to Earth with rabbits hiding eggs.

Anon E. Mous (profile) says:

This is the effect you get when Lobbyists for companies hijack a committee and throw gobs of money to get their agenda and list of wants in something that is suppose to benefit various nations governments and it’s citizens.

The leaked drafts read like an extended Christmas wish-list for big business. This would set a global standard of companies imposing their will on various governments through an opaque system of tribunals.

The companies and lobbyists behind the push are all doing this to protect their way of doing business, but we all know it is really they will do anything to protect anything they view that threaten their profits.

Ask most folks if the know anything about this negotiation or what it is about. Folks will just look at you blankly, practically no one has heard of the TIPP/TPP!

The talks are so secretive that not even our elected lawmakers know what?s in it just the negotiators and corporate lobbyists who have been pushing this crap agreement.

The leaks that have come out now have politicians and citizens from other countries coming out and voicing their opposition, and know we are seeing some countries and their people starting to push back on the U.S. Trade reps pushing this deal.

The US that is hell-bent on getting a deal agreed before there is too much public scrutiny. The TTIP/TPP will effects everyone from companies big and small to the citizen’s of the various countries whose government are trying to have this for fed to them.

The agreement will infringe on our rights and undermines our various nation’s government democracies just to protect the corporate bottom line.

Anonymous Coward says:

let’s face it. none of those in government or any branch of it, any commission or discussion/ negotiating committee gives a toss what the people think or how any of them will be affected. these and other ‘agreements’ like them are a way for there to be a complete world order which is going to have governments carrying out the wants, the wishes and the orders of massive corporations, in other words, we will be living in corporate societies in a corporate world, and think back a few years to where it all started. yep! that big old studio headquarters on the west coast!!

Anonymous Coward says:

“Hundreds Of Thousands Take To The Streets Of Taiwan To Protest Against Trade Agreement’s Lack of Scrutiny”

This is just another astroturfing propaganda scheme by Google paying everyone to protest for them so that the tech industry can steal as much as they could from those rich rich distributors (strikethrough) poor poor artists.

william (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I am from Taiwan, and I am slightly offended by how this situation is funny or treated with light hearted joke.

Western Media don’t care about this because this is not as important as airline accident, or Russia annexing Crimea. Fight for democracy doesn’t matter to you guys unless it has some kind of benefit.

Look at this

I feel they have wasted their blood. No one cares.

Let me quickly summarize a few notable key points.
1) the trade agreement is passed within 30 seconds. Why did it pass? Because ruling and opposition party couldn’t agree, thus it DEFAULTED TO PASSED. laughable, isn’t it?
2) there are 0 impact studies. yes, 0. There are more than 20 public hearing and no one from the government was able to product an impact study. when questioned on the earlier public hearing, the answer is there are no impact studies and there are no ongoing impact studies. perhaps we could have a impact study after signing
3) the ruling party treat this as needing to be urgently passed. This whole deal come to the signing stage in mere 9 month. look at other free trade agreement and how much time it takes (hint: years) and compare that to the 9 month for this one
4) Students has took over the parlimentary building for more than 10 days now. Imagine what kind of effect if a group of student took over the congress building
5) a few days later they took over the executive branch, where the above link shows what happened when the police cleared out the students
6) the president of Taiwan continues his daily press release, schedule, etc, acting like nothing happened. He’s certainly laughing merrily.
7) Taiwan public has gathered 6,000,000 million Taiwan dollars in 3 hours in a kickstarter like site. For what? To buy ad on New York Times international version. Why? Cause none of the western media cared. Very little people know what’s going on.
8) It’s great that the presidents says he’s going to initialize itemized review. But did they report that if one of the item did not pass, the agreement would be terminated before signing? And that China threatens if this does not pass, there will be no talks for at least the next 10 years, maybe never?
9) despite all these protest, the students and supporters are not violent at all. All the conflicts are initiated by the police and the crowds even claps for the police as they switch shifts, to quote “Because we know after the police is out of their uniform, they are Taiwanese too.”

Now you can see why I am slightly offended by AC and all those “funny” vote. I don’t expect everyone have to show perfect respect but at least a basic understanding of what’s going on would make me grateful.

And lastly, I want to say that very little know and cared. Not many news agency carries these news and just scratches the surface. American doesn’t care, Europe doesn’t care, no body cares because Taiwan is such a small place next to the China that everyone is trying to please. This again affirmed my belief that no nation is fighting for “freedom and democracy for all nations”. Every nations is just fighting for their greatest benefits and pleasure.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I think you’re missing the point. The point is that those lobbying for one sided laws always like to claim that their desired laws are what the public wants but no one sees huge sums of people protesting in favor of their laws and the only way they can get ‘protestors’ is to astroturf. Yet we often see lots of protesters against these bad laws. So what’s the rationale for all these protests? The shills around here would somehow make us believe Google is behind it all or some other such nonsense. That’s the only possible way they can argue their way out of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

I can see a realtor selling a house is this fashion, Ok Mr and Mrs Smith, what we have here is the latest in architecture technology, state of the art transparent walls …Mrs Smith- But Sir these walls are not transparent! ..Realtor- Mrs Smith I should add that releasing this technology to the public is going to be to much of a shock and we will not be able to sell you this fantastic gem if we show the world .. the general public is not ready .. but you Mr and Mrs Smith ARE, and after you sign here here and here your walls will be transparent .. you have my word .

Brian says:

The stakes are different

The calls for transparency with respect to the CSSTA are not quite analogous to those regarding the TPP, TTIP, etc.

The Taiwanese protesters are primarily concerned that it is being pushed by the Chinese nationalist KMT party in order to push Taiwan toward unification with the PRC. There are not like concerns with the other pacts commonly discussed on this site.

Maria says:


is the EU not legal at all,
it’s not legal, that the politicians sell the land, the souls,
violate the laws and the constitution GG (Grundgesetz), …
which they do all the time.

They are criminals raping the existing laws in their countries day by day and they will held responsible for that
which is a crime against Mother Earth, Humanity and the Laws of Nature.

They won’t get away with this – be sure!!!

I'm_Having_None_Of_It says:

They never learn, Glyn. They just rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat till we get fed up of fighting back. That’s how they win. When we stop seeing protest as something to get bored of, it’ll stop, but protest fatigue is a problem.

The question is, how much do we value our freedom? Sad to say, it seems we don’t realise how much we’ve got till it’s gone.

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