News / Asia

Mass Taiwan Protests Signal Demand For More Transparency

FILE - A professor speaks to students during a protest outside Taiwan's legislature in Taipei, March 20, 2014.
FILE - A professor speaks to students during a protest outside Taiwan's legislature in Taipei, March 20, 2014.
Ralph Jennings
— More than 100,000 people packed the streets outside Taiwan’s presidential office Sunday to call for scrapping a trade agreement with China. But the mostly younger protesters were less worried about doing business with powerful political rival Beijing than they are fed up with the way deals are made at home.
 
The turnout was estimated between 100,000 and 400,000 as protesters filled boulevards and metro stations in central Taipei, wearing black shirts as a symbol of what they call poor transparency. They demanded that their president scrap a pact with China to liberalize investment in each other’s service sectors.
 
Some demonstrators fear Beijing will leverage the pact to push self-ruled Taiwan into uniting with China as a single country. China has seen Taiwan as its own since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s.
 
The content of the deal aside, most are angry that President Ma Ying-jeou's government signed the agreement in June without telling people more about it. Protester Mai Po-chun, a 28-year-old night school student from northern Taiwan, does not understand what’s in the agreement.
 
He said he does not oppose the proposed trade pact but that the problem is the government passed it before saying clearly what’s inside. He said that has caused young people to not know what lies ahead in their future. He hopes the government can clearly tell the public about every element of the pact instead of just saying at news conferences that it’s great.
 
Sunday’s protest follows from an occupation of parliament since March 18. Hundreds of students first blocked the podium to make legislators ratify the trade pact item by item rather than as a package. Now they want it thrown out and renegotiated.
 
Previous protests in Taiwan against China tie-ups have focused on perceived political threats from Beijing. But 20 deals signed under President Ma to date have lifted Taiwan’s trade, tourism and investment for local business people while creating an estimated 9,600 local jobs. Officials said the current agreement will lift Taiwan’s service sector, which is 69 percent of the economy.
 
Taiwan’s president has made an international name since 2008 for breaking 60 years of icy relations with China to reach the first economic, trade and investment agreements  between the two countries.
 
Protesters now want more public review before agreements are signed, often in China and after private meetings between the two sides’ ruling parties.
 
Taiwanese fretted again over the lack of a clear agenda when the two sides held first-ever ministerial-level talks in February. Many also criticize President Ma for responding too slowly or curtly to domestic problems.
 
Lin Chong-pin, a retired strategic studies professor in Taiwan, said anger boiled over this month.
 
“This is the result of accumulated frustration. China was the background. It’s not really the major factor,” said Lin.
 
The ruling Nationalist Party faces growing pressure to concede something to students occupying parliament as local elections approach later this year. But Ma’s government points to 20 public hearings on the services trade pact and a mechanism to ensure that deals with China do not hurt local enterprises. The president said he will stick by the agreement.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid