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  • Aug 31, 2014
  • Updated: 6:22pm
NewsChina
CROSS-STRAIT RELATIONS

Taiwan protesters march on President Ma Ying-jeou's office to demand halt to trade pact

Rejecting president's concessions, students and other citizens rally outside his Taipei office to voice opposition to trade deal with Beijing

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 March, 2014, 4:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 9:22am

Watch: Taiwan stages mass anti-China trade pact rally

Tens of thousands of Taiwanese gathered outside embattled President Ma Ying-jeou's office yesterday to increase pressure on him to retract a trade pact with Beijing that they say would hurt the island's economy.

The massive protest went ahead despite Ma offering concessions the night before to further scrutinise agreements with the mainland.

Wearing black shirts and yellow headbands, the protesters - shouting "Ma Ying-jeou, step down", "Safeguard our democracy" and "Withdraw the trade service pact" - rallied in front of Ma's office. Organisers said 500,000 came, while police put the figure at no more than 120,000.

They flooded most areas surrounding the Presidential Office Building along Chongqing South Road, with streets packed as far back as the Taipei Station 1.5 kilometres away, and to the legislature where some 200 students have been occupying the parliament chamber since March 18.

But police sealed off some streets around the president's office which was heavily barricaded. Some 6,000 police and military police were deployed.

Housewife Feng Yu-ting, 40, took her three young children, the youngest aged seven months, to the rally. "The government is just deceiving us. How will the services trade pact bring us more jobs? … It will just let mainlanders buy more properties here and make home prices rise, like what has happened in Hong Kong."

Chen Wei-ting, a student leader from one of the groups that organised the march, told the huge crowd: "This government thought they could deal with inexperienced students easily, but they are so wrong … because the turnout today shows them what is the true will of the public."

To end the stand-off, Ma had agreed on Saturday to meet three demands: to enact a law that would increase scrutiny over future pacts; to refrain from negotiations or reviews of cross-strait pacts before that scrutiny legislation is enacted; and to hold a national affairs conference with government and civil group leaders.

But instead of scrapping it, Ma said there would be an itemised review of the pact, as agreed by political parties.

Chen Deming , head of the Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait in Beijing, yesterday said it would be "deeply regretful" if the agreement was not approved.

Lin Fei-fan, a student leader, scoffed at Ma's offers, saying that he did not satisfy their core demand to delay any review until the legislation to increase oversight is drafted.

"The so-called concessions from Ma are bogus," he said.

The protests have been snowballing since March 18, when students stormed the Legislative Yuan, and turned bloody on March 23, when police used water cannons to disperse crowds trying to invade the cabinet's offices.

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anotherguy
You are unfit to make such comments on Ma. He is a man of much greater integrity than most, what gives a common man like you the right to make such insulting remark? Have you accomplished anything worthy in your life to make you think you are fit for remarking someone much more accomplished than you and especially in such a casual way.
brahardja
Sorry, not "everyone in the entire world" agrees with you. Everyone does have a right to protest, but only to do so legally. The students have been illegally occupying the parliament for more than a week. They tried to overtake another last week. The students do not represent the people. The democratically elected president and the legislators, no matter how unpopular they are now, were chosen by the voters. If they are not doing their job then punish them at the next election. This is how democratic system works. Meanwhile, the students are blocking important laws from being passed and using taxpayers money to resources (using water and electricity in the parliament and forcing hundreds of policemen overtime everyday). Hong Kong is different from Taiwan. Hong Kong never had any form of independence since it's existence. I don't think the British government would have allowed an election for governor.
mercedes2233
University students are not necessarily good, educated and smart. They often present as arrogant, immature, riotous. Do they KNOW the details of the trade pact and what its implications are for a fact, or are they protesting out of fervor and bias? I can watch mob behavior on TV without traveling, and I am not impressed.
lamlm38
It just shows how presumptuous and ignorant you are!! Taiwan is not a 'Country' and never will be.. Majority of HK residents today came from same 'peasant' family or descendent of the same 'peasant' family..
shouken
I bet not a single student in the crowd has read the pact through, or even just 15% of it. Looking at these students, I come to fully understand why Deng Xiaoping finally came to the painful decision to bring in the military in 1989. I just do not believe that these 20-year-olds know what is best for Taiwan than their elders. The economic fears of people of the lower income strata have been exploited to the full by opposition politicians.
-----But widening income gap is a worldwide phenomena, regardless of the regime's political status as a democracy or "authoritarian."
likingming
Taiwanese democracy !
That is no better than that of Thailand !
mlouisa70394@yahoo.com
Everyone in the entire world knows that President Ma is a Beijing stooge. He and many of his party members have been promised by Beijing nice retirement packages in China after they retire. Ma loves China more than Taiwan, and at this point, he only cares about Beijing's money. The students are right to protest any closer dependence on China since we all know that Beijing does not keep its word. Just look at Hong Kong! Does anyone really believe Hong Kong will have a fair election? Beware the dragon and its false promises!
daily
Exactly to the point............these Taiwan students are not even mature or knowledgeable enough to even know how this cross-strait pact will impact Taiwan for future years to come..........That's the problem with these so-called university students these days - lack of maturity and rational thinking. They just go and protest for the sake of protesting and have no f-ing clue as to the well-being of society...............When seeing this situation erupting in Taiwan, just realize that what took place back in 1989 in Tiannamen was necessary to shut the students up at that time.
shouken
I think it is more likely that the people (particularly the students) have lost their minds, not President Ma.
aplucky1
taiwan is laughing at hong kong
they do not want to end up like us, letting their OWN COUNTRY BEING OVERRUN by peasants with stolen - filthy money

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