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No China pact ads in US: MOFA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said it has no plan to run advertisements in a U.S. newspaper to promote the government's policy in pushing through the passage of a controversial cross-strait trade agreement.

Local media reports also said yesterday that netizens nationwide have managed to raise NT$6.74 million to pay for advertisements in the New York Times and in some local newspapers explaining to international audiences the reasons for their opposition to the cross-strait service trade agreement.

Yesterday's Chinese-language Apple Daily and the Liberty Times both ran front-page ads supporting the ongoing student-led protest at the Legislative Yuan, where demonstrators are demanding that the government scrap the service trade agreement with China.

According to Academia Sinica research fellow Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) — a supporter of the protest — the advertisement in the New York Times will be published later this month.

Asked to comment, Manfred Peng (彭滂沱), director-general of MOFA's Department of International Information Services, said yesterday that the ministry respects the different opinions raised by Taiwanese people on the agreement.

He said the ministry currently has no plan to follow suit and buy ads in the American paper to promote the Taiwanese government's policy over the trade pact at the Legislative Yuan.

Meanwhile, MOFA spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said yesterday that as a democratic society, it is a only natural that people in Taiwan would have different opinions on different issues.

The ministry will continue to keep a close eye on foreign media coverage on the event.

The ministry will also continue to pass government information to overseas representative offices so that foreign countries can better understand the R.O.C. Government's stance on the issue, she said.

Most Foreign Media Reports Neutral

According to Peng, as of March 17, international mainstream media and wire services have published a total of 271 news articles covering the ongoing protest in Taiwan.

Most of the stories have taken a neutral stance on the issue by presenting both sides of the stories, including that of the Taiwan government and of the protesters, Peng said.

MOFA previously ran ads in four major U.S. newspapers on Oct. 10, 2012 to highlight the R.O.C.'s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea amid a sovereignty dispute with Japan and China over the island chain.

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