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March 30, 2017

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Protesters call on legislators to impeach Ma

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Scattered protests in Taipei were staged yesterday by smaller political parties in light of the upcoming meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese leader Xi Jinping in Singapore, calling for Ma's impeachment ahead of his trip.

Gathering in front of the Legislative Yuan in anticipation of Secretary-General of the Presidential Office Tseng Yung-chuan (曾永權) and Premier Mao Chi-kuo's (毛治國) briefing to Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) on the nature of the meeting, members of the Social Democratic Party, Green Party, Free Taiwan Party and New Power Party gathered separately at the front gates of the legislature denouncing the motivations behind the meeting.

New Power Party Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌), who was influential in leading student protesters as part of the China-skeptic Sunflower Movement last year, called for Ma's impeachment. Huang also called for lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to state clearly whether they were in favor or opposed to Ma's trip, adding that they should transcend party lines to impeach the president in order to protect Taiwan's democratic constitution. He and other smaller parties accused of Ma of attempting bolster his personal legacy at the cost of the Taiwan's future.

Huang and his supporters later marched toward the Presidential Office along Ketagalan Boulevard, disbanding before noon. The youth wing of the Taiwan Solidarity Union later gathered in the same location throwing smoke grenades in the direction of the Presidential Office and were eventually held back by security personnel. Five were later brought into custody.

Meanwhile Speaker Wang released a statement after being briefed by Tseng and Mao, in which he said that administration "proactively communicated with the legislative caucuses to build support for the meeting" and "acted to respect popular opinion." The Presidential Office also emphasized that though "consolidating cross-strait peace," it would not however sign any agreements with China nor hold a joint statement after the meeting. Earlier, legislators from the Taiwan Solidarity Union shouted "protest," "black box (operations)" and "lying to the Legislature" as Mao arrived to meet Wang at a guestroom in the Legislative Yuan.

Presidential Report on Summit: Nov. 9 at the Earliest

Kuomintang (KMT) party whip Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) stated that the ruling party caucus "fully supported" the meeting between Ma and Xi, and that the president was building a platform for future leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to tackle practical problems.

Lai added that he would invite Wang to convene interparty negotiations in order to reach a consensus on a date in which Ma would enter the legislative body to brief the nation on his visit. He said that the earliest possible date for the presidential report could come as soon as the following Monday, Nov. 9.

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