China / Society

Students pull back after three-week protest in Taipei

By An Baijie (China Daily) Updated: 2014-04-09 09:08

Most student activists had retreated from Taiwan's legislative building by Tuesday morning, following three weeks of protests over a cross-Straits service trade pact.

Only about 30 students remained, according to a report from the China Review News Agency in Hong Kong.

The protest, which started on March 18, was triggered by the ruling Kuomintang's decision to bypass a detailed public review of the pact. Protesters targeted what they said was an undemocratic process, fearing the pact's implementation would hurt the island's businesses and cause job losses.

The number of protesters was as high as 100,000 on March 30, when students and residents joined a sit-in on Ketagalan Boulevard and nearby streets in Taipei.

The withdrawal came as protest organizers announced on Monday that they would leave by Thursday because they had met their goals, including drawing attention to the need for a public mechanism to scrutinize future cross-Straits agreements.

Monday's protesters did not mention that one of their major demands - rejection of the pact - had not been met by the authorities, although it was referred back to a legislative committee.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou welcomed the students' decision to leave the legislative chamber. He said that the service pact had been returned to committees under the legislative authority for detailed review. The opposition party should not boycott the review, and the public should reach a consensus that will benefit the people of Taiwan in the future, Ma said.

A follow-up agreement to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement, the service trade pact was signed last June. It promises to open up 80 of the mainland's service sectors to Taiwan and 64 of Taiwan's sectors to the mainland.

The agreement is likely to be discussed this week by Premier Li Keqiang and Vincent C. Siew, honorary chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Straits Common Market Foundation, according to the Ming Pao newspaper in Hong Kong.

An official from the publicity department of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office said that Li is scheduled to meet Siew on Thursday afternoon on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia, which is taking place this week in Hainan province.

It's the first time Li will have met with a politician from Taiwan since he became premier. No further details about the talks had been released by Tuesday afternoon.

Li Zhenguang, a professor of Taiwan studies at Beijing Union University, said the protesters were backed by Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which tried to frustrate the KMT by misleading the students.

If cross-Straits economic exchanges are affected, Taiwan's business enterprises and people would suffer, he said.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Contact the writer at

Hot Topics