Updated: 04/07/2014 15:10 | By Agence France-Presse

Protesters consider ending occupation of Taiwan's parliament

Protesters said Monday they were considering ending their three-week occupation of Taiwan's parliament, after its Speaker intervened to try to end the standoff over a contentious services trade pact with China.


Protesters consider ending occupation of Taiwan's parliament

A student protester sleeps near furniture blocking a staircase in the Parliament in Taipei on April 6, 2014 - by Mandy Cheng

"Discussions about the direction of the movement are now under way," said Shih Yen-ting, a spokesman for the Sunflower movement which is staging the first parliamentary occupation in the island's history.

"Hopefully there will be a conclusion by early this evening," he said, as the number of protesters occupying the main chamber dwindled to dozens from a peak of around 200.

Parliamentary speaker Wang Jin-pyng of the ruling Kuomintang party entered the chamber Sunday to meet students.

He pledged not to preside over further parliamentary debate about the pact until a law has been introduced to monitor such agreements with China. Protesters described his promise as a "goodwill" gesture.

Calls for the demonstrators to quit parliament have been rising even among some of their sympathisers.

"Now it's a opportune time to leave parliament," said Rex How, a publisher who quit as an adviser to President Ma Ying-jeou in protest at the pact with China. 

Local media speculated that the protesters would leave following Wang's concession.

But unconfirmed reports said some radical student groups had refused to back down.

Politicians from both ruling and opposition parties have been meeting  the students since the occupation, but Sunday was the first time that the speaker had entered the chamber since it was seized.

Around 200 student-led demonstrators occupied the chamber on March 18 and swiftly drew a large crowd of supporters, with more than 10,000 congregated outside at one point.

There were violent clashes on March 23 when baton-wielding police turned water cannon on protesters who had stormed the nearby government headquarters.

And on March 30 tens of thousands gathered to pressure the embattled President Ma to retract the trade pact, which they say will damage Taiwan's economy and leave it vulnerable to political pressure from China

Ma, who has pursued closer ties with China since taking power in 2008, has agreed to the students' demand for a law to monitor all pacts with China, but the protesters have rejected the government's bill.

The latest pact would further open up trade in services between China and Taiwan, which split 65 years ago after a civil war.

Ma has said failure to ratify the pact would be a grave setback to efforts by trade-reliant Taiwan to seek more free trade agreements and avoid isolation as regional economic blocs emerge. 

The deal is a follow-up agreement to a sweeping Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement signed in 2010 to reduce trade barriers between China and Taiwan.

Ma has overseen a marked thaw in relations with Beijing since he came to power pledging to strengthen trade and tourism links. 

He was re-elected in January 2012 but his approval ratings are currently only around 10 percent.

China still considers Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting reunification -- by force if necessary.

Latest Photo Galleries on xinmsn

NEWS VIDEOS

MORE NEWS VIDEOS

facebook recommendations

LIVE NEWS RADIO STREAMING

  • 938 Live

    938LIVE is Singapore's only English news and talk station which transmits round the clock with an engaging and enticing spread of programmes on current affairs, health, business and lifestyle as well as news every half hour until midnight.

  • Capital 958


    95.8FM城市频道的前身是"第三广播网"。上个世纪30年代末,新加坡就有中文广播,一路走来经过不少政治,社会局势的改变,中文广播在本地一直扮演举足轻重的角色。