TAIPEI, March 22 (Xinhua) -- Taiwanese students vowed to prolong their protest against a cross-Strait service trade agreement after they failed to reach an agreement with the administrative chief on Saturday.
Jiang Yi-huah visited the young protesters on Saturday afternoon outside the legislative building in Taipei, where Jiang held a dialogue with student leader Lin Fei-fan that lasted about 13 minutes before he was asked to leave.
Hundreds of students maintained a grip on the assembly hall for the fourth day on Saturday, having stormed the building on Tuesday evening in protest of the KMT's decision to bypass a detailed review of the pact.
Protesters accused what they said was an undemocratic passing of the pact and feared its implementation would hurt Taiwan's business and cause job losses. During Saturday's dialogue, Lin demanded the rejection of the service pact and passage of a bill monitoring future cross-Strait pacts.
Jiang told the crowd that the administrative authority had no plan for retracting the service pact, but recognized the need for a detailed review.
"The Administrative Yuan believes the pact will be greatly beneficial to Taiwan's future liberalization and internationalization," Jiang said. "But we do hope for a substantial and clause-by-clause review of the pact in the Legislative Yuan."
The administrative chief added that the KMT had agreed on letting lawmakers and the public to gradually join in the supervision of the pacts. He also promised the administrative authority would not use police force to dispel protesters.
Jiang was cut short as Lin insisted the dialogue could not go on without positive answers to the two demands. Lin demanded the presence of Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou and vowed to continue the student sit-in.
The disputed service trade pact was signed in June last year between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan as a follow-up to the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA). It aims to open up 80 of the mainland' s service sectors to Taiwan and 64 Taiwan sectors to the mainland.
It 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 (DPP) have been boycotting the reviews, the KMT on Monday announced to bypass review and send it directly to the legislative floor, where the KMT holds the majority of the seats that can ensure its passage.
The action ignited protests by the DPP and college students, who on Tuesday evening broke into the legislative building, tore down the plaque and occupied the assembly hall where lawmakers hold meetings.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang voiced his support to the students' "siege" of the legislative building, calling it a justified action against the KMT's breach of deliberative democracy.
The KMT countered back in a statement on Friday, saying the DPP's deliberate blocking of the reviews was true violation of deliberative democracy. It also accused the DPP of inciting protests.
Ma's office has turned down the possibility of talks between protesting students and Ma, saying Ma would not speak to anyone demanding a dialogue by seizing the legislative building.
The island's industrial and business sectors have expressed concerns over the continuing protests, saying the delayed passing of the service pact would dire a blow to the island's export-oriented economy. The protest may also cast shadow on future negotiations on a goods trade pact that many hope will also buoy the island's economy.
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