Chinese and Taiwanese flags in Taipei. Photo: Reuters
Chinese and Taiwanese flags in Taipei. Photo: Reuters

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan has proposed an amendment to an existing act that governs cross-Strait political exchanges, with a new bill to introduce a “high threshold” review mechanism for any agreement that pro-unification parties on the island may sign with Beijing.

The planned amendment, by the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, seeks to put in place safeguards before, during and after a cross-Strait political agreement is signed.

The party wants to pre-empt any radical moves by Beijing-friendly groups like the Kuomintang (KMT) as Beijing seeks to win support from political entities in Taiwan that oppose the DPP’s pro-independence stance.

The new amendment requires the cabinet to submit notification to the legislature no less than 90 days before the start of any political negotiations with China. The Legislative Yuan would then have to convene a plenary session to vote and any talks could only proceed if they are backed by 75% of lawmakers. The Legislative Yuan would have the power to veto any agreement if half of the lawmakers vote to kill such a move.

A public hearing and a referendum would need to be held to gauge public sentiment, and the minimum turnout required for the results to be legally binding would be 50%.

Under the new amendment, any proposal to alter or renounce Taiwan’s sovereignty would not be allowed as a topic or item for political negotiation with China, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency.

The planned amendment was proposed in response to Xi Jinping’s address in early January when the Chinese president proposed imposing a “one country, two systems” framework in Taiwan and threatened to use force to annex the self-ruled island. He also proposed initiating negotiations with pro-unification representatives from Taiwan.

The amendment, if passed, would have a far-reaching impact even if the KMT returns to power after the presidential election next year. Any deal it might sign with Beijing would still be subject to debate and public scrutiny.

The DPP and its supporters are worried that the KMT might collude with Beijing through talks behind closed doors and even announce a plan to change the status quo and push for reunification.

Former Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, with the KMT party, met with Xi in Singapore in 2015, but he refused to disclose details of his hours-long talk with Xi. Some suspect the two discussed a draft for a declaration of reunification.

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