TRADE PACT SIEGE: Crowdfunded pro-protest ad may go global

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Mar 26, 2014 - Page 3

The government seems to be reacting coolly to a move by citizens against the cross-strait service trade pact to run an advertisement they took out in two local papers and the New York Times, saying it has no plans to respond with its own international ads defending the controversial agreement.

Crowdfunding site FlyingV said that the people behind the move, who identified themselves only as a collection of concerned civic groups, initially set the goal of raising NT$1.5 million (US$48,990) to place an ad supporting the protests against the deal in the Apple Daily.

The half-page ad appeared on the front pages of yesterday’s Chinese-language Apple Daily and Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister paper).

Featuring photographs of the student-led protesters who have been occupying the Legislative Yuan since March 18, the Chinese-language ad reads: “You ask: ‘Why are we here?’ The answer is crystal clear: To oppose the ‘black-box’ [opaque handling of the] service trade agreement.”

Organizers plan to run the ad in the international edition of the New York Times once they hit the NT$6.63 million mark.

It was unclear how much the collective spent on the Liberty Times advertisement.

Asked if the government would respond to the anti-trade pact publicity with its own ads, Manfred Peng (彭滂沱), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of International Information Services, said: “We don’t currently have plans to do so.”

According to Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), an academic with Academia Sinica and a supporter of the ad, the campaign has already collected that amount.

He said the advertisement is likely to be run in the New York Times later this month — although it was unclear if it would be translated into English.

The crowdfunding drive was launched on Monday, the day that student-led protesters were dispersed by police from the Executive Yuan after having broken into and occupied the government complex the previous night.

That protest splintered off of the larger protest still being staged inside and around the Legislative Yuan by students and others who worry that the pact with China will hurt Taiwanese interests.