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Police evict students protesting China-Taiwan free trade deal

According to the South China Morning Post, “More than 150 people were injured and 61 students arrested after riot police armed with batons and water cannon waded in to break up a protest over a trade pact with China at Taiwan’s parliament in the early hours of Monday.”

The students had been occupying the Taiwanese parliament for six days to protest a services and investment pact with mainland China, signed in June 2013 but not yet ratified, which they believe will hurt the local economy and give Chinese companies (and China generally) too much power. There were also concerns with the ratification process itself.

“The trade pact must not be approved without careful deliberation and scrutiny in parliament,” a student leader told the AFP news service. While the government had initially promised a clause-by-clause assessment of the deal in parliament, this was eventually retracted.

“The cabinet sent the service trade pact to parliament because we think it will help Taiwan’s liberalisation and internationalisation. We do not plan to withdraw [it],” Taiwan’s Prime Minister Jiang Yi-huah, surrounded by bodyguards, told protestors outside of the parliament buildings this weekend to chants of “step down” from the crowd.

The government then ordered police to evict the students from parliament and clear the camp. The protestors were defiant.

“This won’t stop us. We will continue our protest until [president] Ma Ying-jeou scraps the trade service pact,” said Alex Chen, a student of National Chengkung University, as quoted in the Morning Post. You can see photos and videos of the action here.