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September 20, 2017

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Legislative committees call recess as protesters linger

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- All committees at the Legislative Yuan called a recess Thursday as protesters skeptical of a trade pact with China had taken over the legislative chamber for a third day.

The committees that announced a recess included the judicial committee, the finance committee, the interior committee, the education and culture committee, the foreign affairs and national defense committee, the economics committee, the social welfare committee and the health committee.

The recess announcement was made for the sake of the safety of the participants in the originally scheduled committee meetings, according to ruling Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Huang Chao-shun, who is convener of the economics committee.

Since Tuesday evening, hundreds of protesters, mostly students, have occupied the legislative chamber after storming past police guarding the complex.

The protesters, who are concerned about the impact of a trade in-services agreement Taiwan and China signed in June on the local job market, are demanding that the lawmakers review the trade pact item by item.

In addition to the occupation of the legislative chamber, more and more people have gathered outside the Legislative Yuan building, shouting their support for the protest.

Security has been tightened in front of the office of Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who has called for "reason and self-restraint" in the political standoff.

Police have also barricaded Jinan Road and Zhenjiang Street, which lead to the Legislative Yuan building.

Only lawmakers and reporters with legislative passes are allowed to enter the Legislative Yuan building.

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