38 policemen injured, 4 protesters arrested in clashes

03/19/2014 09:17 PM
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Taipei, March 19 (CNA) Thirty-eight police officers were injured in clashes with protesters who stormed the Legislature late Tuesday, National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun said Wednesday, adding that four protesters were arrested.

While most of the injured officers returned home after being treated, Chung Chen-chiang, a division chief at the agency's Special Force Sixth Headquarters, remained in a hospital, Wang said.

He urged the protesters occupying the main chamber of the Legislative Yuan to leave peacefully.

Asked about further police action to deal with the standoff, Wang said measures will be taken based on conditions at the site.

Wang explained that it began as a legal assembly in front of the Legislative Yuan Tuesday evening. However, some people incited the protesters -- mostly students -- to force their way into the building, he said.

The protesters then began to climb over the low walls circling the complex, pushing and shoving the police guarding the Legislature, Wang said, adding that the number of frontline protesters surged rapidly to more than 400 people, who charged the 20-plus police guards.

In two failed attempts to evict the occupying protesters from the chamber, police arrested four people, one of whom is a university student, on charges of assault and interference with public functions, Wang went on.

According to a police assessment, by late Wednesday there were nearly 2,250 protesters surrounding the Legislature, both inside and outside, faced off against a similar number of police.

The protest erupted after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) labeled the long-stalled trade-in-service accord with China signed in June last year, an "executive order" Monday and declared the review process over, in an attempt to get the pact through the legislative floor as soon as possible, despite having previously promised an item-by-item review of the pact.

The move, however, sparked strong protests by the opposition parties and civic groups skeptical about the trade pact, which will open Taiwan's doors to China's service sector.

Earlier in the day, Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng called for "reason and self-restraint," adding that he hopes the confrontation will be resolved peacefully and that the protesters will not be harmed.

Meanwhile, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang said the party's policy-making Central Standing Committee has decided to mobilize more people to join the protesters at the Legislative Yuan. Executive party members will also be deployed as reinforcements at the siege, he added.

Commenting on the conflict, Deputy Economics Minister Cho Shih-chao said he does not understand why students are opposed to the service trade accord, which he said would create jobs for young people.

The pact also opens China's doors to Taiwanese service businesses, Cho said, citing a Taiwan business as saying that if local chain stores want to enter that big market, they will need to hire executive staff from Taiwan.

"It's a great opportunity for young people, who will not be trapped in a small pond (referring to Taiwan), but will be able to develop in a big ocean," he said.

(By Chen Ching-fang, Justin Su, Lin Hui-chun and Elizabeth Hsu) ENDITEM/J

Related stories:●March 19: President calls for approval of cross-strait pact before June (update)●March 19: Opposition party mobilizes members, mulling 'long-term' protest●March 19: Cabinet to respect how Legislature deals with protest●March 19: Speaker calls for self-restraint in Legislative standoff●March 18: Protesters break police line, storm Legislature●March 18: Talk of the Day -- Service trade pact pushed forward amid chaos(For latest developments, please click here.)

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