TAIPEI — Lawmakers exchanged punches and threw garbage bins at one another yesterday in another raucous session of Taiwan’s legislature after the speaker rejected an opposition bid to conduct a detailed debate on a contentious trade pact with China.
The scuffles erupted after Wang Jin-pyng of the ruling Nationalists turned down a request by the proindependence Democratic Progressive Party to debate each clause of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement separately rather than to consider the pact as a whole.
Wang’s decision is almost certain to accelerate the agreement’s passage, which is already guaranteed by the Nationalists’ heavy legislative majority.
The deal, signed last week in the Chinese city of Chongqing, is the key element of President Ma Ying-jeou’s two-year effort to tighten the bonds between Taiwan’s high-tech economy and China’s lucrative markets.
It is expected to go into effect early next year.
In addition to slashing tariffs on a wide range of items traded across the 100-mile-wide Taiwan Strait, the pact formalizes mechanisms for dispute mediation and promises access for both sides to new sectors such as banking and insurance.
Ma says the agreement is necessary for Taiwan to avoid economic isolation amid the emergence of regional trading blocs, particularly after a free trade agreement between China and southeast Asian countries went into effect earlier this year.