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August 23, 2017

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500,000 rally at Presidential Office: protesters

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Hundreds of thousands of student-led protesters dressed in black gathered along Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office in a protest over President Ma Ying-jeou and the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement.

Student activist Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆) claimed over 500,000 people attended the rally, while protesters outside of the Legislative Yuan claimed that they numbered over 700,000 people. The National Police Agency (NPA), however, estimated the number of protesters to be 116,000.

During the rally, thousands of people shouted "reject the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, defend democracy," and "legislate the bill first then deliberate the agreement."

The Rally is a Start: Lin

While addressing the crowds at Ketagalan Boulevard, Lin said the demonstration yesterday was not an end but a start, noting that people should exchange contact information with the person standing next to them and arrange working rosters so people can take turn to go to the Legislative Yuan.

Lin said the reason why the protesters occupied the Legislative Yuan was because the administration has lost its legitimacy.

Lin reiterated the protesters' four demands of the Ma administration, which are rejection of the Cross-Strait Trade in Services Agreement, introduction of the Bill on Pacts between Taiwan and China — a draft bill proposed to supervise the signing of agreements with China — urging the government to hold a "public constitutional meeting," and demanding all lawmakers listen and stand by people's side.

The rally has been seen as a protest of Ma's press conference on Saturday, where Ma made remarks that protesters described as an "off-the-point" response to their demands.

On Saturday, Ma said that the government cannot retract the agreement. He said, however, that the ruling party is willing to review the agreement article-by-article in cross-committee deliberations at the Legislative Yuan.

The student activists said Ma failed to understand their demands despite their almost two weeks of protests.

Around 4:20 p.m., Lin's co-leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) arrived at the Presidential Office from the Legislative Yuan. Chen said that Ma has not responded to the protester's "core" demands at all.

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