News / Asia

Taiwan Protesters Occupy Legislature Over China Trade Pact

  • Students protesting against a China Taiwan trade pact rally in front of a wall of police outside of the occupied legislature, in Taipei, Taiwan, March 20, 2014.
  • Students protesting against a China Taiwan trade pact occupy the legislative floor, in Taipei, Taiwan, March 20, 2014.
  • Students protesting a China-Taiwan trade pact barricade themselves in legislature in Taipei, March 20, 2014. (Xiaobei Zhang/VOA)
  • Students protesting a China-Taiwan trade pact sleep inside the legislature in Taipei, March 20, 2014. (Xiaobei Zhang/VOA)
  • A student occupying the legislature in Taipei told VOA his mother is worried that he is in the building, March 20, 2014. (Xiaobei Zhang/VOA)
  • Students protesting against a China Taiwan trade pact occupy the legislative floor, in Taipei, Taiwan, March 20, 2014.
  • Student protesters against a China-Taiwan trade agreement barricade the entrance to the legislature in Taipei, March 19, 2014.
  • Hundreds of students protesting a China-Taiwan trade pact surround the legislature in Taipei, March 19, 2014.
  • Students and other protesters collide with police inside Taiwan's legislature in Taipei, March 18, 2014.
VOA News
Police and protesters have been engaged in a standoff in Taiwan's legislature after students stormed the building to demand the government scrap a trade deal with China.

The protesters Wednesday knocked down a large metal gate as they entered the legislative chamber late Tuesday and were using chairs to keep out police.  Authorities said several officers were slightly injured when they made a failed attempt to clear the chamber.

The students said the deal would endanger Taiwanese jobs and increase Beijing's growing influence.

Student organizer Shi Yilun told VOA that the protesters felt the ruling Kuomintang, or KMT, party has bypassed the democratic process.

“The public hearings have not taken into consideration the voice of the people, the voice of all parties, or the questions and challenges all sides have about the Cross Strait Service Trade Agreement.  On the contrary, on February 17 (the KMT) did something that violated fundamental democratic procedures and was without regard to the people of Taiwan. They violated what we authorized them to do at that time.  We’ve come here to take back our rights,” said Shi.

The students are upset that a government committee passed a review of the deal despite opposition protests.

KMT Policy Committee Chairman Lin Hong-chi told reporters that the protesters were the ones damaging Taiwan's democracy.

“From last night until the present moment, a portion of the populous has been misled by a small number of people with ulterior motives into occupying the Legislative Yuan.  This has caused great harm to Taiwan’s democracy.  How sacred are the halls of parliament.  To trample on a palace of democracy is to trample on parliament, which is the same as trampling on the people,” said Lin.

Taiwan-China economic ties have been strong for years.  Political relations have also grown warmer following historic high level talks last month.

Taiwan's opposition is worried about excessive Chinese influence.  The opposition has vowed to vote against the trade deal, but does not have the strength to block it.

Finance Minister Chang Sheng-ford said the deal was too important for the island to pass up.

“The Cross Strait Service Trade Agreement has a stake in the nation’s prospects.  Mainland China is such a big market that if we don’t sign this agreement our competitiveness will drop.  How will we join regional mechanisms in the future?  Everyone had better calmly consider over [this], [we] must not be influenced by ideology," said Chang.

The trade deal is part of the far-reaching Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, or ECFA, signed between Taiwan and China in 2010.

Under the subdivision of the pact now under discussion, Chinese and Taiwanese service companies would increase investments in each other's territory.

Chang Ching is a Taiwan-based research fellow at the Society for Strategic Studies.  He told VOA the dangers of the deal were being overblown by some in the opposition who have their eye on elections later this year.

"Many of the impacts to the service sector in Taiwan are overstated by the opposition party.  But that's just the reality of life.  Because in the opposition party, you will definitely find some who want to mobilize the public in order to get support (and) in order to get political leverage," he said.

Chang said the opposition did have a legitimate complaint about the way in which the ruling party decided to review the agreement.

"Originally, [the KMT] promised they would review the agreement - article by article, item by item, clause by clause.  But eventually, they found another way to interpret that.  [They said] since it is an administrative agreement, it can automatically be passed," he said.

The debate over the trade deal comes as many in Taiwan are concerned over steadily improving political ties with China.

Last month, Taiwan's top official on China affairs, Wang Yu-chi, visited the mainland, where he held Taiwan's first ever political talks with China.

Taiwan split from China following a civil war in 1949.  Beijing still regards it as a breakaway province that will someday be reunified with the mainland.

Economic ties have improved in recent years, especially after the somewhat Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou was elected president in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

Hongshen Zhao contributed to this report from Taipei and William Gallo contributed from Washington.

(This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Mandarin service.)

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Joe from: Taiwan
March 21, 2014 6:09 AM
Governments all around the world are trying to circumvent the democratic process to push laws through that people do not support, and are not good for the people. Usually these are trade pacts that will lower wages and create unbalanced competitive playing field.

by: The Stinky Tofu from: USA/Taiwan
March 20, 2014 10:23 PM
I have to admit this has been one of the many articles that use the wikipedia when describing the Taiwanese plight and situation. Taiwan has never been a province of PRC, how can it be a split? ROC yes, Taiwan no.

Shame on VOANEWS.... another OLD MEDIA like article sadly.

by: 柯旭銘
March 20, 2014 9:11 AM
The article do not state the vox populi in Taiwan.All people mentioned in this article is KMT-related. In fact ,this activtity is initiated by promising college students.The main appeal is to put an end to this deal. Because chairman of Procedure Committee ,also an KMT's lawmaker , holds an nobody meeting in 30 seconds ,he declares this deal should be put into meeting agenda in his murmuring voice at the corner. Ironically,It is the most undemocratic party which says the students are destroying democracy. Besides, KMT do not hold much public hearing after its negotiators fininishing the deal with China. Please include these, cuz in the recent days,The President,also the chairmen of KMT, would force the deal in an undemocratic way.

by: Jimmy from: Taiwan
March 20, 2014 8:31 AM
The article is very biased toward the ruling party,Nationalist.In fact,the actitivity is initiated by a group of college students.They,or the supporters calls for the ruling party to rebuke the deals.The deals are not examined by democracy process.The chairman of Procedure Committee,also an lawmaker of ruling party holds a 30 seconds meeting to put the deals into meeting agenda. While the people in the article say the students are a group of mob,ignoring democracy. Ironically, it is the ruling party who says the deals are nothing but an administrative order, cuz the ruling party think Taiwan,part of China.

by: M from: Canada
March 19, 2014 10:11 PM
The content of this news article is very biased towards KMT politicians, who have been given a bigger voice in the 'discussion' here.

This is not about 'improvements' in the relationship between Taiwan and China, this is about allowing China more influence on an independent area of the world. Not just any place, this is an area that they do not recognize as being independent. China is hostile towards Taiwan, and this is necessarily an unequal agreement.

Chinese citizens will find the doors to Taiwan wide open while this will not be so for Taiwanese citizens. Clearly specific politicians have been influenced by things outside of the interests of the common Taiwanese person.

by: Shintaro Sakamoto from: Japan
March 19, 2014 7:27 AM
I support young Taiwanese. Never trust any offer from Beijing because China is the country that easily backs out the treaties and agreements for political purposes. Take a look at Hong Kong and Japan. As for Taiwan, a breakthrough on reunification won’t happen as long as Beijing remains authoritarian and continues to break its promises to Hong Kong. Do not fall into the same trap, Taiwan.
In Response

by: MLWU from: United States
March 20, 2014 10:19 PM
Zhoucan Chen, Hong Kong is a living example unification with China, and it's not a pretty one. You can argue that the economy has improved, but the improvement goes towards raising property prices and building businesses to serve Chinese "tourists", neither is to the benefit of Hong Kong people. Now on the already tiny land, they have to accommodate the flood of Chinese people who go there to give birth to babies and take bites into their welfare. You might have a dream, but they don't share it.
In Response

by: Zhoucan Chen from: USA
March 20, 2014 3:34 AM
Do not put Hong Kong and Japan over the same situation, ok? Hong Kong is a part of China, I strongly believe that is a dream of Chinese government and Chinese people to make Hong Kong economic be prosperous. How about Japan? Why bilateral relation of Sino-Japan is worsening immensely? That is caused by Japanese operation of the small island , not Chinese.
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs