Protesters Fault Taiwan For Trade Deal With China

Taiwanese students have demonstrated against a trade agreement between Taiwan and China. The protesters see the pact as another step toward economic absorption into mainland China.

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(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING PROTESTORS)

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And this is what a protest sounded like a few days ago in Taiwan, more than 100,000 people protesting a new trade agreement building ties between Chinese and Taiwanese businesses. Students are also upset. They've been occupying Taiwan's legislature for almost two weeks now.

NPR's Frank Langfitt explains why people are so angry.

FRANK LANGFITT, BYLINE: Demonstrators say the ruling Kuomintang party - which has close ties to China - did an end-run around the island's democratic process and killed debate on the controversial deal.

K. C. Huang, one of the protest leaders, is a professor at Taiwan's prestigious Academia Sinica.

K.C. HUANG: There was no deliberation, no discussion, and our democracy was seriously undermined by such an absurd process.

LANGFITT: Protesters say the pact will hurt small companies and young workers and only add to China's economic and political leverage over Taiwan, which the Communist Party sees as a rebel province.

HUANG: China is a country which has not given up its desire to invade Taiwan. From a public policy perspective, it would be quite unwise to put our whole economic market in China.

LANGFITT: China's authoritarian government says the pact will benefit both sides, and Taiwan's small economy will suffocate if it doesn't embrace free trade.

Without a hint of irony, the Communist Party's Global Times newspaper called the student's occupation of the legislature a, quote, "shame to democracy."

Frank Langfitt, NPR News, Shanghai.

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