Protesters' occupation of Taiwan building called unacceptable

Protesters' occupation of Taiwan building called unacceptable
Police try to remove demonstrators in Taiwan.

TAIWAN - Violent protesters' activities in Taiwan should be condemned because they have violated the principle of "democracy and law", said a spokeswoman for the island's leader, Ma Ying-jeou.

Lee Chia-fei, spokeswoman for Ma's office, said on Monday morning that the protesters' occupation of a government building is unacceptable and that, as a result, the authorities had to disperse the violent protesters in line with the law, according to a report from taiwan.cn.

The spokeswoman's comment came as large crowds of people protesting a cross-Straits service trade pact broke into the building of Taiwan's "executive yuan" and clashed with police on Sunday evening.

The police took action around midnight, with more than 2,000 protesters removed from the site and 61 arrested. A total of 110 protesters and 55 policemen were injured, said Jiang Yi-huah, Taiwan's administrative chief.

Hau Lung-bin, mayor of Taipei, said at a news briefing on Monday morning that the activities of breaking into and destroying government buildings should not be tolerated, and that those held accountable for the violence must be punished.

The disputed service trade pact was signed in June between the mainland and Taiwan as a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.

The pact entered ratification process in Taiwan a month later, with 16 public hearings and detailed reviews by eight special committees.

As the opposition Democratic Progressive Party boycotted reviews of the pact, the ruling Kuomintang announced on March 17 that it would bypass review and send the pact directly to the legislative floor, where the KMT holds the majority of the seats, which can ensure its passage.

The KMT's action drew protests by the DPP and college students, who broke into the legislative chamber on March 18 and occupied the assembly hall where lawmakers hold meetings.

The protesters challenged what they said was an undemocratic passing of the pact, and they feared its implementation would hurt Taiwan's businesses and cause job losses.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said at a news conference on Sunday morning that because Taiwan's economy relies heavily on foreign trade, the island urgently needs more free-trade agreements.

Failure to pass the service pact would damage the island's credibility and hurt cross-Straits relations, Ma said, adding that Taiwan has not been under any pressure from the mainland regarding the pact.

Ma said that the pact is "completely for the sake of Taiwan's economic future".

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, China's cabinet, commented on March 19 that the cross-Straits economic cooperation has brought actual benefits for Taiwan's people.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

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