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Pro-China groups try to storm Taiwan parliament

Latest protest raises fears of clashes with anti-China movement

Pro-China groups try to storm Taiwan parliament

Protesters post a caricature of Taiwan's president Ma Ying-jeou (picture: AFP Photo/Sam Yeh)

Mhike So, Taipei

April 2, 2014

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Pro-China protesters tried to enter Taiwan’s legislature on Tuesday, raising fears of clashes with students of the ‘Sunflower Movement’ who have occupied the building for three weeks to protest a trade deal with China.

Chang An-lo, head of the minority China Unification Promotion and an alleged crime boss, led 1,000 pro-China protesters to within two blocks of the Legislative Yuan building in Taipei before they were blocked by 300 riot police.

“If they [the Sunflower Movement] can go into the legislature, then why can’t we,” Chang said, criticizing the police for “sheltering criminals”.

Known as the “White Wolf” in Taiwan, Chang is on bail after fleeing to China for 17 years to escape organized crime charges.

“You don’t deserve to be Chinese and China does not need you,” he shouted from a truck amid constant heckling from anti-China protesters.

Student activists Lin Fei-fan and Cheng Wei-ting have led the occupation of the Legislative Yuan since March 18 as part of protests against a new trade deal with China they say was negotiated in secret before it was signed in June last year.

Ching-ching, a 24-year-old student who has been in the parliament building since day two of the occupation, said protesters were concerned the deal would see China “swallow” Taiwan.

“All we want is a transparent government. We are not members of any political party, but we are all here to protect the hard earned democracy of Taiwan,” she said.

Hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets near the president’s office in Taipei on Sunday to show their opposition to the services trade agreement, which would further expand recent closer ties between Taiwan and the mainland following the most high level talks since the two countries split in 1952.

President Ma Ying-jeou has said he is ready to meet the protesters while rejecting calls to abandon the deal with China, saying it could “cause too much damage to Taiwan”.

Anti-China critics have complained that even if the pact does generate economic activity for Taiwan, this would be skewed towards businesses which favor greater mainland ties, a divisive issue among Taiwanese as China maintains its desire to bring the island back under its control.

“The government has tried to assure people that the pact is accompanied by a set of complementary measures for managing national security risks,” Chang Teng-chi, an associate professor of political science at National Taiwan University, wrote in an editorial in the Taipei Times on Wednesday. “However, China long ago professed its desire for ‘peaceful unification’ with Taiwan and feels no need to hide its intentions.”

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