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Hundreds rally to demand pact protesters go back to school

2014/03/30 17:58:41

Taipei, March 30 (CNA) Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Taipei Sunday to urge an end to the student occupation of the Legislature and a "rational discussion" of a disputed service trade pact with China, while over 100,000 opponents of the pact converged on the Presidential Office plaza in a widening of the protest movement.

Hundreds rallied by civic group the Civil Justice Alliance shouted "come forward for the sake of Taiwan's stability and a more liberalized economy," as they massed around the Taipei Main Station waving Republic of China flags and wearing white t-shirts.

The white shirts were meant to draw a line between the protesters thronging the streets around the Presidential Office and the Legislature that afternoon who were wearing black t-shirts to oppose a perceived lack of transparency in the government's handling of the trade-in-services agreement.

The Civil Justice Alliance urged the student-led protesters to pull out of the legislative building they took over March 18, to allow the parliament to get back to work.

One participant shouted at the black-clad protesters heading to the Presidential Office: "Students, go home and study!"

The group urged the protesters to return stability and order to Taiwan.

Groups and voices have emerged that run counter to the protesters, who fear eroded job and business opportunities as well as increased Chinese sway over Taiwan as result of the pact to open up the service sectors on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.

The rally against the pact came a day after President Ma Ying-jeou agreed to a law overseeing future agreements with China, as demanded by protesters, but refused to take the trade pact back from the Legislature as, he said, the move would greatly hurt Taiwan's economy.

The pact, signed last June, has been stuck in the Legislature by disagreements between the ruling and opposition lawmakers.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Scully Hsiao)
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Two rallies held on Saturday by groups opposing protesters' occupation of the Legislature:
●White shirts: Students' action does not represent all Taiwanese: groups (update)
●Carnations: Hundreds gather to urge student protesters to go home (update)

(Click here for the latest on the ongoing protest and developments since the Legislature occupation starting March 18.)