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May 26, 2017

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Overseas Taiwanese keep China pact protest alive

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwanese students studying in 19 different countries have declared that they will continue to support the "Sunflower Student Movement" in Taiwan after holding protests alongside the mass protest at Ketagelan Boulevard on Sunday.

Students and activists in London and Berlin joined forces to encourage overseas Taiwanese to attend the March 30 protests, acquiring support from around 50 cities in just eight days. According to Taiwanese students in Berlin, the organizers in each city volunteered almost immediately after the events were announced.

"Our aim is to support the Taiwanese who have been trying to curb the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement due to its undemocratic nature. We should protect Taiwan's valuable democracy together," a student in Berlin said.

Over 700 students and protesters reportedly gathered in London to support the student movement in Taiwan.

Activists in New York said they believe that the pact would only speed up Taiwan's unification with China and heighten the latter's determination to take Taiwan's sovereign rights. "Compared to rest of the world, Taiwan lacks the sense of being united as a country. We are worried that the industry sectors opened by the pact will affect Taiwan's culture and creative industries — something that is in need of government support," said Wen Liu (劉文), one of the main organizers.

The activists in New York City have launched numerous protests, the first one held two days after the occupation of the Legislative Yuan. "Taiwan is not for sale!" the students called throughout each protest.

New York locals inquired about the nature of the protest, many stating that they were awed by the organized event and supported Taiwan's democracy, Liu added.

A similar protest was held on a sweltering day in Washington D.C., with some having driven eight hours to participate, said Chao Tse-hua (趙澤華), one of the protest organizers. "They didn't have to do this, but they were ready to stand up to protect Taiwan's hard-earned democracy," said Chao.

Multilingual Support from Paris

Organizers in Paris originally met each other in a different social movement: the protest against the Want-Want media group in Taiwan. The organization and preparation of the protests were surprisingly smooth, said student activist Lin Chieh-An (林皆安).

A multi-lingual elderly woman volunteered quietly at the protest, delivering her speech in German and acting as a translator for German and Japanese supporters. The students were moved by her participation, said Lin.

Students in Spain, Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, France, Belgium and many other countries voiced support for their fellow protesters in Taiwan, stating that they were prepared to continue the protests against the pact and the Ma administration's handling of its passage.

"We strongly oppose the manner in which the pact was passed ... the supervisory law regarding cross-strait agreements should be voted on and passed first," called the protesters in Washington, D.C.

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