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June 23, 2017

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Cabinet stays out of way of demonstration at Legislature

TAIPEI--The Executive Yuan said yesterday that the Cabinet will respect the way the Legislative Yuan handles the protesters against the trade-in-service agreement with China, whose occupation of the Legislative chamber has forced the legislature to shut down for the day.

Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) made the comment as Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said he has asked the caucus whips of both the ruling and main opposition parties to map out a strategy to resolve the dispute over the agreement.

The Presidential Office said it supports Wang's call for an early resumption of normal legislative work and appropriate handling of the issue in accordance to law.

The administration stands ready to lend its full support if it is needed, said presidential spokeswoman Garfie Li (李佳霏).

Hundreds of protesters, most of whom are students, have occupied the Legislative chamber since Tuesday night after storming past the police force guarding the complex. Thousands more blocked the entrances, forcing the Legislature to cancel all meetings scheduled for Wednesday.

Among other things, the protesters demanded an item-by-item legislative review of each provision in the agreement signed in June 2013 with the goal of opening up the service industry across the Taiwan Strait.

Speaking to reporters, Sun said the legislature will have a say in how to deal with the standoff and the executive branch will respect the legislature's decision.

The protest came after the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) on Monday labeled the trade pact an "executive order" and declared the review process over, a move protested by the opposition parties and civic groups skeptical of the trade pact.

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