China-Taiwan trade pact sparks street protest in Taipei

Related Stories

Tens of thousands of demonstrators in Taiwan have been venting their anger at a trade deal with China, to be signed on Tuesday.

Opposition supporters fear the new trade pact may harm Taiwan's economy

The agreement will cut tariffs on exports and loosen curbs on investment.

Supporters say it will boost Taiwan's economy but critics fear it could pave the way for a Chinese takeover.

China and Taiwan have been separately governed since the end of a civil war in 1949, though China still sees the island as its territory.

Leaders of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party are calling for Taiwan to hold a referendum on the pact, known as the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

Police said around 32,000 people took part in the protests. The opposition said there were 100,000 demonstrators on the streets.

CHINA-TAIWAN TRADE

  • Worth $100bn (£73bn) a year
  • 40% of Taiwan's exports go to China
  • Taiwan invests $200bn (£139bn) in China

"The trade pact would turn Taiwan into another Chinese territory like Hong Kong," said Chang Kuo-min, a rubber factory worker, speaking to the Associated Press.

"The Taiwanese have worked so hard to achieve the democracy we have today, and we will not allow China to control us," he continued.

Another demonstrator, Wu Hsien-che, dismissed the deal as "sugar-coated poison".

Job loss fears

Taiwan's government has said the deal is crucial to keep its exports competitive with those of China's other trade partners.

But the opposition DPP say the deal could be the first step in a Chinese political takeover. Most Taiwanese resist the idea of unification with the Communist mainland.

Analysis

Taiwan's opposition complains these changes will bind the two economies closer together.

It fears China, the dominant partner, will in time gain greater control over what goes on here as a result.

The protesters suspect China is giving concessions now but will exact a heavy price at a later date.

For China's leaders, though, this probably is more about politics than economics.

They hope this deal will help them to win hearts and minds in Taiwan.

That is important if they are ever to achieve their goal of bringing the island back under the control of Beijing.

The opposition also warns that a flood of cheap Chinese imports could lead to factory closures and the loss of jobs.

Despite decades of animosity, the two neighbours have become major trading partners, says the BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei.

China has offered what are considered unusually generous terms, cutting tariffs on 539 Taiwanese products entering its market. These include car parts, petrochemicals and fruit.

In contrast, only 267 Chinese products would benefit from reduced tariffs on the Taiwanese side.

China would be able to invest in some Taiwanese service industries, while Taiwan would gain access to sectors such as computer services and airline maintenance in China.

The government of President Ma Ying-Jeou has made closer ties with China one of its leading policies.

Its aim is to reduce tensions across the Taiwan Strait, a flashpoint for decades since 1949.

China still has more than 1,000 missiles targeting the island as a warning against declaring formal independence.

Opinion polls indicate that a majority of Taiwanese back the trade agreement.

It could open the way for Taiwan to sign free-trade deals with other countries, something Beijing has resisted in the past.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

More Asia-Pacific stories

RSS

Features

  • Baby being handed overFraught world

    The legal confusion over UK surrogate births


  • Bad resultsBlame game

    The best excuses to use when exam results don't make the grade


  • Police respond to a shooting in Santa MonicaTrigger decision

    What really happens before a police officer fires his gun?


  • Child injured by what activists say were two air strikes in the north-eastern Damascus suburb of Douma (3 August 2014)'No-one cares'

    Hope fades for Syrians one year after chemical attack


  • Lady AlbaGoing Gaga Watch

    Social media's use ahead of the independence referendum


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.