Thu, Apr 01, 2010 - Page 1 News List

Scuffles break out over ECFA meeting

'SELL-OUT' While protesters clashed with police, the head of the Taiwanese delegation tried to reassure the public that it would work to protect local interests

By Mo Yan-chih and Vincent Y. Chao  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Several rounds of clashes later took place as protesters attempted to break through the barbed wired barricades and police guarding entry into the resort.

The protesters dispersed at noon following repeated warnings by police, but gathered again early in the afternoon, yelling slogans and burning Chinese flags.

“President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and the ECFA are selling Taiwan out,” “Taiwan and China are two different countries” and “ECFA needs a nationwide referendum,” the crowd chanted.

The clashes were the latest in a long string of headaches for the government which has expressed optimism that it can complete negotiations on the agreement before the end of June.

The timing and location of yesterday's talks were heavily criticized by the opposition after the government only announced the venue on Monday — two days before the start of the negotiations.

DPP legislators said the remote location was chosen to limit the amount of protesters at the scene, while other said the Ma government was downgrading Taiwan's status by deciding not to hold the meeting in Taipei.

The two sides held the first round of negotiations in January in Beijing.

Kao said the SEF chose to hold the event outside Taipei “purely because we could not find enough rooms for delegation members in the city,” as the timing of the negotiations was not determined until several days ago.

Although, no serious injuries were reported at press time, several protest organizers later alleged there had been instancesof police brutality. A group of Taoyuan County DPP councilors said they were hit by police officers during the morning scuffles.

DPP headquarters, however, rejected reports that it was involved in the protests, saying it did not have plans to launch protests over the trade agreement.

“It's too early to talk about protests. The DPP will discuss such actions pending the outcome of the government's attitude on holding an ECFA debate and nationwide referendum,” DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said.

The DPP has accused the Ma administration of ignoring public opinion after the government rebuffed its earlier calls to hold a referendum on the proposed pact. A recent poll conducted by the DPP showed that 45.8 percent of respondents were against signing the proposal, while 34.9 percent supported it.

Critics oppose the ECFA amid fears that it would jeopardize Taiwan's sovereignty and make it too economically dependent on China.

Both the DPP and the Taiwan Solidarity Union have been pushing for a referendum on the issue.

Sources from the DPP said that Presidential Office Secretary-General Liao Liou-yi (廖了以) would meet DPP Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) at an undisclosed location today to hammer out details on the upcoming talks between Ma and Tsai.

The DPP has called for a “debate” on the proposed ECFA, but the Presidential Office said it would prefer a “discussion” of the issue.

This story has been viewed 4656 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top