Taiwanese protest trade deal with China
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside of Taiwan’s parliament on Thursday. Led by the main opposition party, the protesters called for a referendum on a free trade deal that is due to be signed with China in June.
Some say the deal, called the economic cooperation framework agreement, or ECFA, would mostly benefit China.
[Tsai Wen-chou, Protester] :
"I am very concerned about signing the ECFA. If we look at two economic bodies that share a common market, the ones that benefit are always the capitalists. On the other hand, the place with higher pay will set up its factories in the place with lower pay. There is a big gap of salaries between Taiwan and China, and once the agreement is signed, our economy will be doomed."
Others are worried about unemployment, as cheap Chinese goods could put small business people out of work.
[Lai Shen-yang, Protester] :
"I think the most important issue is unemployment. We have such a high unemployment rate, how can we become competitive ? I think we should strengthen our own economy first, then talk about cooperating with other places. ECFA is not open nor transparent, so I demand a referendum."
Protesters began the three day sit-in on the second anniversary since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.
The trade deal has split the island between those who think it will bring prosperity from improved access to China’s markets, and those who fear it could wreck Taiwan’s economy and is the first step to a Chinese political takeover.