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Taiwanese legislative speaker meets with student protesters

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 00:31

April 7 - Taiwan parliament's speaker of the house discusses review options with students protesting trade pact between Taiwan and China. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY: Taiwanese legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng visited the student-occupied Legislative Yuan building on Sunday (April 6) to discuss trade pact review options with protesters, local media reported. The chaotic sit-in to protest against a trade deal with China has shut down Taiwan's parliament and exposed deep divisions over the island's identity after seven decades of living apart from its vast, undemocratic rival across the strait. The mainly student protesters, who proffer sunflowers as a symbol of hope, denounce the pact as an arrangement suiting Taiwan's wealthy. They say it will lead to mass encroachment by China, and its one-party mindset, on the island's cherished democratic values and institutions. Advocates of the pact, including Taiwan's president and his government, say it is a vital step to normalising relations with Beijing and will provide jobs and improve living standards. Protesters demand the repeal of the trade deal, which was only one step away from parliamentary ratification before the sit-in began. They also demand lawmakers pass an oversight mechanism of trade pacts with the mainland before they pass the current trade deal - a move the government has agreed to in principle and could potentially pave the way toward an end to the stalemate. Wang encouraged the students to leave the building and resume their studies. Student leader Lin Fei-fan said that the protesters would consider Wang's appeal. This is the first time protesters, a common sight in Taiwan, have taken over the island's highest lawmaking body, and constitute the largest anti-China protest in years. The trade services agreement would open 64 of Taiwan's service sectors to China and 80 of China's sectors to Taiwan, a deal Taipei has touted as a way to preserve Taiwan's competitiveness and create jobs. Opponents fear the pact could hurt local industry and pave the way for meddling from Beijing. China has maintained a largely neutral stance on Taiwan's democracy, saying its main concern, for now, is boosting trade and investment and not rocking the diplomatic boat. But China's President Xi Jinping, in office for a year, said last October that a political solution to the question of Taiwan's sovereignty could not be postponed indefinitely. But as the protests reveal the messy vibrancy of Taiwan's democracy, the presence of one-party China looms larger.

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Taiwanese legislative speaker meets with student protesters

Monday, April 07, 2014 - 00:31