Taiwanese students protest trade pact with mainland China
TAIPEI, Taiwan — As students occupied Taiwan’s legislative chamber Sunday for a sixth day to protest a free-trade agreement with China, President Ma Ying-jeou denounced the takeover as a threat to democracy.
Government officials have pledged not to use force to remove the protesters, who fear the agreement will hurt Taiwan’s small businesses and give China too much influence.
Alan Romberg, a Taiwan expert at the Washington-based Stimson Center, said the Taiwanese government needs to salvage the trade deal or its credibility will be damaged. But any deal with China is controversial, and Ma is deeply unpopular among supporters of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
“Clearly, the concerns about this bill are greatly heightened because the counterpart is the PRC [People’s Republic of China], and there is a general worry about the implications of becoming more dependent on mainland markets and mainland intrusions into Taiwan markets,” Romberg said in an email.
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