Students in Taiwan Storm Government Headquarters to Protest Trade Deal with China

There were angry demonstrations outside government headquarters on Sunday
There were angry demonstrations outside government headquarters on Sunday

Taiwanese police have clashed with hundreds of students who occupied government headquarters to protest at a trade deal with China.

Police used water cannon and dragged out students one by one, clearing the building by dawn on Monday.

More than 30 people were arrested and dozens hurt, police said.

The protesters say the agreement with China would hurt Taiwan’s economy and leave it vulnerable to pressure from Beijing.

Another group of students and activists have occupied Taiwan’s parliament since early last week.

The BBC’s Cindy Sui in Taipei says the students wants more scrutiny over all future dealings with China, including any trade agreements.

They also want the current deal – which would allow the two sides to invest more freely in each other’s services markets – to be scrapped.

The governing Kuomintang party says it is determined to ratify the deal with Beijing, which it says will boost the economy and create jobs.

China formally regards Taiwan as a part of its territory, despite the island governing itself for six decades.

Trading partners

The protests began early last week after ruling party MPs said a joint committee had completed its review of the pact, which was signed in June 2013 but has not yet been ratified by MPs.

Students broke into the legislature late on Tuesday and have since defied police efforts to evict them, using barricades made of furniture.

On Friday thousands of people rallied to support the students, and the the opposition Democratic Progressive Party has also backed them.

On Sunday, President Ma Ying-jeou said that the occupation of parliament broke the law, adding: “I must say that [the pact] is completely for the sake of Taiwan’s economic future.”

Late on Sunday, some protesters pushed past riot police to storm the government headquarters, pulling down barbed wire and using ladders to access second-floor offices.

Violent clashes erupted as police moved to restore order.

China is Taiwan’s biggest trading partner and in recent years ties between the two have improved.

The two sides split at the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

Earlier this year, however, they held their first direct government-to-government talks. In the past, all talks have gone via quasi-official organisations.

They have also signed several trade and investment agreements in recent years – but some fear greater economic integration with China could threaten Taiwan.

SOURCE: BBC News

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