• Wed
  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 12:16pm
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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mercedes2233
Agree, and Legco was allowed representatives from 'functional constituencies' only when Britain was on its way out of HK.
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!
lamlm38
You have all 'proofs' of course.. keep jerking that junk of yours:)
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.
mkt@mx-technology.com
Just to make sure - Ma has support rate ranging from 9% to 16% of the people. Everyone in Taiwan (almost - expect these 10+%) knows that Ma is "an inefficient bumbler" (courtesy by the ECONOMIST) and a lame duck in Chinese hands. When he started his presidency his support rate was at well over 70% - the way down to 10% was marked by failure after failure - no acomplishments at all - devoting most of his time to please his masters in Beijing.
lamlm38
If Ma was such a failure why the heck was he elected TWICE? In fact Ma is a realist.. He knows that Taiwan needs China more than the other way around!!!
natasha.thanatos
To follow anyone blindly would be the mark of ignorance, and wose, fear. Look at North Korea.
mercedes2233
Or Germany following Hitler.

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