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  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 4:05pm
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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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This article is now closed to comments

natasha.thanatos
To follow anyone blindly would be the mark of ignorance, and wose, fear. Look at North Korea.
daily
It doesn't matter what university these students came from but judging by their actions, they are ignorant and immature and have no damnn clue as to what the pact is all about...........they are just guinea pigs out there trying to get whatever limelight they can get for doing absolutely meaningless protesting................time to get the military like in 1989 to shut these kids up.
mkt@mx-technology.com
Come on, Taiwan is an independent country and was not rulled by Chinse sinc e 1895.
It's a vibrant democracy, even with one dominant party with Chinese roots (KMT). Nevertheless, Chinese can only dream of this kind of democracy and rule of law that Taiwan citizens enjoy every day.

aplucky1
oh you can run your big mouth all you want, taiwan is a country, they HAVE DEMOCRACY, they vote in their own president, they have their own currency, they have their own passports
and the mainland peasants can do nothing about this, never
but keep running your big fat mouth, it means zero
lamlm38
does their passports say 'Republic of Taiwan' btw? We dont need those 'street-mob' democracy either..
lamlm38
how many countries recognize it as 'Cuntry' other than those few banana republics they managed to buy over.. btw? dont gimme that 'we-dont-need-to-declare' ****!!! Declare independence the PLA will be in Taipei in no time.. dont expect the 7th fleet to protect Taiwan either, the DF missile scares the **** out of them now :)
mkt@mx-technology.com
Much, much better. The protests are organized by students from Taiwan's top universities - very good educated, smart, young people, who can read between the lines and understand well what government is cooking up with China.
If you don't belive, just fly over and see by yourself!
mkt@mx-technology.com
President Ma lost his mind. The more he pushes "his" service trade deal with China (he did it on Saturday once again), the more people question his state of mental health.
Ma's mainland friends are keeping silent, but must be very nervous of seeing hundreds of thousands young Taiwanese who were not-involved in politics, turning into political activists overnight. Ma's China-friendly rhetoric is just adding oil to the fire.
lamlm38
So what should an elected president do? reverse his policy every time he sees street mob?
aplucky1
one more thing, how many PLA soldiers are stationed in Taiwan?

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