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Thousands Rally in Taiwan Against China Trade Deal


Thousands of people took to the streets of Taiwan's capital Saturday, chanting anti-communist slogans to protest a planned trade deal with China.

The protest in Taipei was organized by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which says the trade agreement will undermine the island's self-rule and its economy.

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou has been pushing for the so-called Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, which it says will boost growth and employment. Under the deal, Taiwanese companies will enjoy tariff benefits in China on more than 500 products. Chinese companies will receive advantages on close to 300 products

Taiwan's envoy Chiang Pin-kung is set to sign the agreement Tuesday in the Chinese city of Chongqing.

The opposition is calling for a referendum on the pact.

Pro-independence groups in Taiwan say the agreement will strengthen Beijing's influence over the self-ruled island.

Taiwan split from mainland China in 1949. Beijing considers it a part of its territory and has threatened to use force to prevent its secession. President Ma Ying-jeou has sought to ease decades of tension by building closer economic ties with the mainland.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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