Monday, March 31, 2014

Hundreds of thousands protest against trade pact

Protests over a Taiwan-China trade pact continued, with up to 350,000 attending a rally outside the Presidential Office and near the legislature 

As the crisis over a controversial trade pact with China entered its twelfth day on March 30, approximately 350,000 Taiwanese held a daylong rally near the Presidential Office in Taipei and around the Legislative Yuan, which has been occupied by students since March 18.Held after failed attempts at negotiations between the leaders of the Sunflower Student Movement and the government, and two press conferences by President Ma Ying-jeou, the “330” protest was organized with memories fresh on everybody’s mind of a bloody crackdown at the Executive Yuan. 

During the night of March 23-24, riot police evicted thousands of activists from the seat of the Cabinet. About 170 people were hurt in the clashes, with activists accounting for the most serious injuries. During a public address on March 29, Lin Fei-fan, one of the leaders of the Sunflower Movement who has camped out at the legislature since March 18, said that the “330” protest could be called off if President Ma met their demands. As Ma failed to respond according to their wishes during his second press conference, the leadership elected to proceed with the rally, which was scheduled to start at 1pm. Ma, however, argues that he did respond to the protestors’ demands, and wants them to go home so that the legislature can resume its operations. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here. (Photo by the author)

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