03/22/2014, 00.00
TAIWAN
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Student protest against trade deal with China continues

by Xin Yage
Students have held Taiwan's legislative building for five days now, calling on President Ma Ying-jeou to meet them. Now, the standoff is turning into a political confrontation between the ruling KMT and the opposition.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - Taiwanese Prime Minister Jiang Yi-Huah (江宜桦) met today with the students (pictured) who have occupied the island's parliament (Legislative Yuan) for the past five days demanding a face-to-face meeting with President Ma Ying-jeou.

Although no such meeting has occurred, KMT lawmaker Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) announced at a press conference that the ruling party's caucus had agreed yesterday to an article-by-article discussion, and eventually an article-by-article vote, of the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement (两岸 服务 贸易 协议), which were the main demands that had initially sparked the occupation of the Legislative Yuan building.

KMT lawmaker Lai Shyh-bao (赖 士 葆) who was also by Lin's side, said however that there was little chance of returning the pact to the Internal Administration Committee for review, but he too explained that the pact could be examined article-by-article during a plenary session.

For their part, the students continued to call for a meeting with President Ma in the presence of Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) to ensure that Wang's pledge to vet each article in the trade pact would actually be done.

A meeting between Ma, Wang, Prime Minister Jiang Yi-Huah and Vice President Wu Den-yih (吴敦义) was also scheduled for yesterday afternoon. However, Wang did not show up, arguing that unless the two sides in parliament came to some understanding, a four-way meeting would not only be useless, but would also be meaningless since the main parties to the conflict would not be represented.

Former opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) agrees with Wang. What is more, "President Ma cannot unload his responsibilities on others!" she said before the cameras.

Former Prime Minister Frank Hsieh (谢长廷) also addressed to the crowd of students calling on Ma to assume his responsibilities.

Yesterday evening at 6 pm, student leader Lin Fei-fan (林飞帆), a graduate student at National Taiwan University (台大), held a press conference in which he called for further protest over the weekend at KMT offices across the island.

This afternoon, when Lin met with Prime Minister Jiang Yi-Huah who had come to hear the students' demands, he made ​​two requests: that the trade service deal be withdrawn, and that, if he could not do it, that President Ma Ying-jeou meet with them in person.

Emboldened by five long days of waiting to speak with a government representative, the crowd of students, after repeatedly shouting "withdraw the trade service pact" (撤回 服 贸!), thanked the Prime Minister for meeting them.

After Jiang's expected negative response, the students began shouting, "Ma, come forward!" (马 总 出面!). As for Lin, he acknowledge the prime minister's answer as well, then thanked him and dismissed him.

Jiang Yi-Huah thanked everyone before slowly making his way out of the crowd surrounded by bodyguards.

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