Concession Offered, Taiwan Group to End Protest of China Trade Pact

The protesters in Taiwan agreed on Monday to end the sit-in, a decision that came a day after the legislature’s speaker, Wang Jin-pyng, visited the occupied chamber and offered a key concession. He said that a bill that would allow lawmakers to have closer oversight of agreements with China should be approved before the legislature resumed consideration of the trade pact. As speaker, Mr. Wang is responsible for convening meetings between parties, a powerful tool in organizing the legislative agenda.

“Many people asked, If you leave this place, won’t you lose your bargaining chip?” said Chen Wei-ting, one of the student leaders, at a news conference announcing the end of the occupation. “The truth is, everything we’ve said and all our energy has allowed this to spread from a student movement to a movement of all the people.”

Resistance to the deal in Taiwan signals that China’s strategy of wooing the island through strengthening economic ties may be reaching its limits.

Rather than feeling closer to the mainland, the sense of Chinese identity on Taiwan seems to be declining. According to polls by National Chengchi University’s Election Survey Center that examine whether people in Taiwan consider themselves Taiwanese, Chinese or both, the percentage that identified as Taiwanese has shot up under Mr. Ma’s presidency, reaching 57 percent at the end of last year.

“I think the Chinese government has to worry about this kind of trend,” said Tung Chen-yuan, an expert on cross-strait ties at the university.

“The bottom line is that if the same deal was between Taiwan and pretty much any other country in the world it wouldn’t be a problem,” said Jonathan Sullivan, an associate professor at the University of Nottingham’s School of Contemporary Chinese Studies. “But Taiwan’s relationship with China is unlike any other in the world. And depending on who you talk to, China is Taiwan’s only way to peace and prosperity or an existential threat.”


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