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Major events of Taiwan's 'Sunflower Movement'
【Politics】2014-04-08  09:35:02
Taipei, April 7 (CNA) The student-led occupation of Taiwan's parliament over a trade-in-services agreement with China that began March 18 is due to end on April 10.

The following are major events in the 23-day protest dubbed "the Sunflower Movement":

March 17 -- In a chaotic joint session of eight committees of the Legislative Yuan, Chang Ching-chung, a ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker and convener of the meeting, declared the review of the much-delayed agreement was over and the accord submitted to the Legislature's plenary meeting for reference. The move triggered angry response from activist groups as well as the opposition parties (Link to story).

March 18 -- Hitherto little known groups such as the Democratic Front Against Cross-strait Trade in Services Agreement held an evening rally outside the Legislative Yuan, which turned into a storming of the Legislature by hundreds of protesters. Using swivel chairs and other furniture, they blocked themselves in the main legislative chamber and police attempts overnight to evict them were unsuccessful (Link to story).

Clips of protesters pushing into the Legislature:

Hundreds of people -- mainly students -- who support the occupation gathered outside the legislative compound. The protesters' first demands included Premier Jiang Yi-huah's resignation, an apology from President Ma Ying-jeou and a return of the service trade pact to an item-by-item review by the legislative committees.

March 21 -- Ma called a meeting with Vice President Wu Den-yih, Jiang and Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng in a bid to end the confrontation but it was canceled after Wang excused himself, saying in a letter that the nature of the dispute is different from one that would require the intervention of the head of state. Calls from Ma failed to change his mind (Link to story).

March 22 -- Jiang became the first ranking administration official to see the protesters. He was met outside the Legislative Yuan by Lin Fei-fan and other student leaders, who demanded that, for a dialogue to happen, the premier should promise first to withdraw the service trade pact from the legislature and to enact a new law aimed at providing close scrutiny of all agreements with China. The brief encounter broke up after Jiang rejected setting preconditions for a dialogue (Link to story).

March 23 -- Ma called an international press conference, in which he stressed the importance of the service trade agreement to Taiwan's economy and its efforts not to be marginalized. In response, the student-led movement said the president did not show any sincerity in having a dialogue with the protesters (Link to story). The student-led movement said the president did not show any sincerity in having a dialogue with the protesters.

President Ma Ying-jeou's opening statement (in Chinese):

Student leader Lin issued four demands, which included a civic conference on constitutional government, legalizing the mechanism for monitoring cross-Taiwan Strait agreements, no action on the service trade pact until the new oversight law is enacted and a pledge by all legislators to work on the new legislation first (Link to story).

In the evening, hundreds of protesters broke into the Executive Yuan compound, which is about two hundred meters from the Legislative Yuan. Dozens of them broke windows and damaged doors to enter the main building (Link to story).

As police prepared to evict the intruders, a few politicians of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) went to the scene to lend their support to the protesters. They included current and former party bosses Su Tseng-chang, Tsai Ing-wen and Frank Hsieh (Link to story).

After reinforcements arrived, police began removing the protesters after midnight, first by carrying them away one by one but later started to use water cannons. More than two hundred people, including protesters and officers, were injured (Link to story).

[Outside the Executive Yuan, on Zhongxiao East Road and Zhongshan South Road in Taipei. CNA photo March 24, 2014]

The compound was cleared of demonstrators by daybreak. Protesters alleged police brutality and "state violence". Government officials said the police had exercised a high degree of self-restraint.

March 24 -- Wang, the legislative speaker, called leaders of legislative caucuses for consultations for the first time. Several more rounds of talks took place at his residence but all broke down as senior lawmakers of the ruling and opposition parties could not agree on what to do with the service trade pact (Link to story).

The KMT caucus later agreed to have the pact returned to the committee stage for a detailed review but no consensus could be reached in the consultations called by the speaker.

March 25 -- The president said through a spokesperson that he is willing to hold a dialogue with the students without any preconditions in order to resolve the dispute (Link to story).

March 27 -- The student-led occupation movement called on the public to attend a rally in front of the Presidential Office on Sunday afternoon (Link to story).

[Outside the Legislative Yuan's chamber. CNA photo March 27, 2014]

March 28 -- For the first time, the premier said the administration is open to the possibility of legalizing the mechanism for the oversight of all cross-strait agreements. At the same time, he rejected the students' demand that the service trade agreement be withdrawn from the legislature (Link to story).

March 29 -- The president held a second press conference to explain the administration's position on the dispute (Link to story).

March 30 -- A peaceful rally of demonstrators dressed in black took place on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the President Office. Organizers said as many as half million took part in the event. Police said the number was 116,000 at its peak (Link to story).

[A scene of the mass protest. CNA photo March 30, 2014]

March 31 -- KMT lawmaker Chang and Lin Hung-chih, chief whip of the KMT legislative caucus, apologized for the social turmoil following their action on March 17 (Link to story).

April 1 -- The Unionist Party, founded by former gang member Chang An-lo, and some labor groups supportive of the service trade pact marched on the Legislative Yuan and demanded the authorities take action against the illegal occupation of the nation's parliament. They confronted the protesters and some DPP politicians at the scene. Police struggled to separate the two opposing camps (Link to story).

April 3 -- In a weekly meeting, the Executive Yuan approved a draft bill aimed at strengthening the oversight of cross-strait agreements (Link to story). Student leader Chen Wei-ting rejected the text of the bill as "mere form."

As many as ten non-official versions of the proposed legislation were being discussed by the students (Link to story).

[Participants taking part in the sit-in outside the Legislative Yuan camp on the streets, with a banner in the back saying "Dad, mom, don't worry. We are safe here." CNA photo April 5, 2014]

April 6 -- Wang set foot in the Legislative Yuan for the first time since March 18 after declaring he will not call any cross-party caucus meetings on the service trade pact until the new oversight law has been enacted. Once in the main chamber, he shook hands with Lin, the student leader, and urged all students to go home (Link to story).

April 7 -- The student leaders announced they will evacuate the legislative chamber at 18:00 April 10 (Link to story).

[Chen Wei-ting (front) and Lin Fei-fan (left), two leading figures in the student movement. CNA photo April 7, 2014]

(By Tseng Ying-yu and Jay Chen)

Video reports:
Taiwan divided over trade pact

China reacts to trade pact dispute

Mass protests held in Taipei on March 30

Overseas protests echoing the March 30 mass protest in Taipei

Sunflowers end Legislature occupation

(Click here for detailed developments since the Legislature occupation started March 18.)
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