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Taiwan's opposition may besiege Presidential Office to protest talks

Taiwan's opposition may besiege Presidential Office to protest talks

Taipei, Dec. 15 (CNA) Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) unveiled Tuesday a plan to besiege the Presidential Office in protest against what the party claimed were under-the-table deals between President Ma Ying-jeou's administration and Beijing.
The protest was being planned to coincide with the fourth round of talks between the chief negotiators of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait -- Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung and Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) President Chen Yunlin -- which is slated for Dec. 22 in Taichung. In anticipation of Chen's arrival on Dec. 21, the pro-independence DPP is also planning to muster 100,000 people to take part in a march on Dec. 20 in the central city to voice the party's opposition to the proposed cross-strait trade agreement, known as an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA).
Chuang Suo-han, an acting spokesman of the pro-independence DPP, said his party believes that the upcoming Chiang-Chen talks are intended to set the stage for the signing of the controversial trade pact.
The DPP insists that in promoting such an agreement, the government must consult with the industrial sector, be subject to monitoring by the Legislative Yuan, hold public debates on the issue, and call a referendum to allow the people to decide whether the pact should be signed, but none of these things have been done so far, Chuang said.
Lee Chun-yee, a senior DPP legislator, said the DPP will oppose any cross-strait negotiations unless they are conducted in a transparent manner.
He accused Ma of being two-faced by offering to debate ECFA with DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen on the one hand and continuing to promote the Chiang-Chen talks on the other.
Ma's move, he alleged, is made in preparation for Taiwan's ultimate unification with China.
Ma, however, has pledged he will not discuss unification with China during his term as president. He has also argued that the free-trade agreement is crucial for Taiwan to maintain its competitiveness when trading with China, as the mainland is about to sign free-trade accords with its other trade partners in Asia, which will offer those countries tariff-free access to the Chinese market.
Chuang claimed that remarks made by Ma in a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal have revealed his intention to promote unification between the two sides, which is against the people's will.
He pointed out that over 85 percent of the people in Taiwan are in favor of maintaining the cross-strait status quo, and the DPP insists that any decision to change the status quo should be made by the people in a referendum.
In a story published Monday that was based on the interview with Ma, the newspaper quoted the president as saying that "whether there will be reunification as expected by the mainland side depends very much on what is going to unfold in the next decade." The Presidential Office clarified Tuesday that Ma was misquoted because what he said was "in the next decades, " instead of "in the next decade." Lee, however, said it is not important whether the term used by Ma is "decades" or "decade." The point is how come Ma can decide on behalf of the people that Taiwan will ultimately move toward unification with China, instead of achieving independence or maintaining the status quo, he added.
"If Ma is to promote unification with China against the people's will, the people will be forced to shed blood to resist tyranny, " he warned.
(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Y.F. Low)