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Taiwan protesters begin 3-day sit-in for referendum about ECFA with China

Taiwan protesters begin 3-day sit-in for referendum about ECFA with China

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Protesters marked President Ma Ying-jeou’s second anniversary in power Thursday with the start of a three-day sit-in calling for a referendum about his plans for an Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China.
Former Premier Frank Hsieh took the initiative for the peaceful protest outside the Legislative Yuan in Taipei. Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen sat in the first row as the action began on Thursday afternoon with protesters wearing green T-shirts of the ECFA Referendum Alliance and straw hats.
“The fact that President Ma does not want to let the Taiwanese vote in a referendum goes against the spirit of democracy and against his own promises,” Hsieh said.
Tsai attacked Ma’s promise of a “Golden Decade” he made at a news conference Wednesday. “Ma wants a golden decade, but he put the key in China’s hands,” she told the crowd.
DPP spokesman Tsai Chi-chang said the sit-in would allow each person to reflect on whether their lives had improved during the two years of Ma’s rule so far. The president prided himself on Taiwan’s advances in international competitiveness ratings, but the changes only benefited big business groups, Tsai said. He pointed at recent polls which indicated the widening gap between rich and poor was the major public concern.
Organizers said that since the sit-in was peaceful, it would not inconvenience students taking examinations at a nearby school Saturday, when the protest is scheduled to stop at 10 p.m. Police called on students to leave home early to avoid traffic problems. The organizers canceled earlier plans for marches, though politicians from the ruling Kuomintang still tried to block or postpone the protest.
Smaller-scale similar sit-in protests also took place in other parts of the country, including outside the railway station in the city of Changhua and in Kaohsiung.
The small opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union has filed the required more than 86,000 signatures for a referendum with the Central Election Commission, which has passed it on to the Executive Yuan’s Referendum Review Committee. The latter is expected to pass judgment on the validity of the referendum proposal early next month. If the ruling is positive, the TSU will have to collect more than 860,000 signatures before the vote can be held.
Ma has described ECFA as essential to maintain Taiwan’s economic competitiveness as China and other Asian nations cut tariffs.
Opponents say the deal is the first step toward unification with China and will harm Taiwan’s sovereignty as well as its economy.
Ma wants ECFA signed next month, even though a third round of negotiations has not started yet.


Updated : 2021-09-20 03:29 GMT+08:00