Taiwan's parliament building has been occupied by hundreds of
protesters for almost two weeks over the government's decision to
agree to a deal that would open 80 of China's service sectors to
Taiwan, and 64 Taiwanese sectors to China.
Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since the Communists
defeated the Nationalists and took power on the mainland in 1949,
though relations have warmed considerably since the China-friendly
Ma won the presidency in 2008 and secured re-election in 2012.
Both Taiwan and China have expressed interest in a historic meeting
between the two countries' leaders, though no timeframe or venue has
The student protests are the biggest challenge to Ma's rule since he
Ma has said the trade agreement is necessary for Taiwan's economic
future, but opponents say the deal could hurt small Taiwanese
companies. Many also worry the pact will allow Beijing to expand its
influence over a fiercely independent and proudly democratic
territory that China sees as a renegade province.
Ma told a media conference at his official residence the current
pace of Taiwan's economic progress with China was appropriate.
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He added that he saw no impact on Chinese tourism to Taiwan from the
trade pact protests.
Taiwan made a peaceful transition from dictatorship to democracy in
the late 1980s, and is now one of Asia's most freewheeling
In recent years the two sides have built up extensive economic ties,
yet booming trade has not brought progress on political
reconciliation or reduced military readiness on either side.
(Writing by Paul Carsten in Beijing; editing by Jeremy Laurence)
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