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Tens of thousands protest KMT-CCP 'black box' talks

'Taiwan's three biggest problems are Ma, Ma and Ma,' says Tsai

Tens of thousands of Taiwan citizens marched through the streets of Taichung City to protest the holding of talks between unofficial envoys of President Ma Ying-jeou's Kuomintang government and the People's Republic of China for being conducted in a "black box" and "sacrificing the rice bowls" of the Taiwan people.
The march, initiated by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and the Taiwan Solidarity Union and numerous Taiwan-centric civic and social reform groups, was held on the eve of the fourth set of talks between Taipei's Strait Exchange Association Chairman and KMT vice chairman Chiang Ping-kung and Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin, a former director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the PRC's ruling Chinese Communist Party.
The talks, which will be held in the Howard Plaza Hotel in the western outskirts of the central Taiwan city, will feature the signing of four cross-strait agreements cooperation on the setting of industrial standards and certification, on the inspection and quarantine of agricultural products, on avoidance of double taxation and on labor affairs related to the fishing industry and thus raise the number of such pacts to 13 agreements since the Ma government took office in May 2008.
The march was divided into two sections, including a section to "Protect Our Rice Bowls" led by DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen and other DPP leaders and legislators which left from an intersection near the restricted area surrounding the meeting site and a "Break the Black Box" route which left from the intersection of Taichung Port Road and Minchuan Roads in downtown Taichung and included former Examination Yuan president Yao Chia-wen and many Taiwan-centric social groups.
Both sections began the march at 3:30p.m. and combined for a mass rally under the banner of "Protect Our Rice Bowls and Break the Black Box" at a parking lot across from the Taichung City Open Air Auditorium.
Speaking to the concluding rally, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen stated that "the reason we have to march today is because so many affairs and policies are being carried out by this government in a black box."
"President Ma says that all of these agreements are good and has never engaged in dialogue with us, but over 80 percent of the people tell opinion polls that they do not understand what the four agreements," said Tsai.
Tsai stated that the proposed "economic cooperation framework agreement" with the PRC would open Taiwan's markets up to low-cost PRC imports made with Taiwan technology and knowhow and low wages tariff free and warned that "many people will lose their jobs."
"The KMT government says that it will add three months to unemployment benefits for displaced workers, but then what?" asked Tsai.
The DPP chairwoman described Ma as a president who was "deaf to the worries of the people," devoted to "upholding the interests of the elite and the rich," and consistently "refused dialogue" with opposition parties and the people.
"We marched to tell this government that our people have their own minds and are their own masters and will not allow the government to deceive and mislead us," said Tsai.
"Our voice is from the grassroots and we say that cross-strait agreements cannot be decided in a black box and must be transparent, be subject to legislative supervision and must receive the agreement of the people through referendum," stated the DPP chairwoman, who chided the KMT government as caught in an "authoritarian mentality" for painting protesters as "violent."
Saying that Taiwan's three biggest problems were "Ma, Ma and Ma," Tsai concluded by stating that "these three problems cannot solve anything for us, so we need to decide our future ourselves."
Marchers in the first route, which was mobilized by the DPP, numbered over 40,000, according to former DPP secretary-general Lin Chia-lung, while the "Break the Black Box" route had over 30,000 participants.
DPP Spokesman Tsai Chi-chang stated that over 100,000 participated in the event, surpassing the party's target.
However, DPP Tainan County Branch Director Kuo Kuo-wen stated that "what is more important the number of participants, which is hard to estimate, was the very warm response by many people on the street."
Besides shouting "Smash the Black Boxes," "Taiwan is My Country" and "Down with Ma Ying-jeou," participants carried banners stating "Cross-Strait Agreements, Let the People Decide," and "Get Lost, Chen Yunlin!" and "Refuse Secret Talks."
Several protestors also formed a float with Chiang and Chen on a bed covered with red and blue blankets symbolizing the CCP and KMT under the signboard of "Chiang-Chen Meeting: An Illicit Affair Held in a Motel."
Former DPP secretary-general Lin Chia-lung told The Taiwan News that the fact that the march attained its target "will exert pressure on the Chiang-Chen talks."
"Hu Jintao (PRC State Chairman) stated that the ECFA talks should be launched before the end of this year, but the size of this march in Taichung City, which is under KMT administration, and the strong showing of young people shows that many people in Taiwan identify its advocations."
"The march has sent a message to Hu that the CCP cannot simply strike a deal with Ma or the KMT and ignore the Taiwan people," said Lin, who added that "Ma now faces a combined pressure from the Taiwan electorate and the CCP."