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1,000 Taiwanese launch protest against China pact

File image courtesy AFP.

China procurement group arrives in Taiwan
Taipei (AFP) Nov 9, 2009 - A high-powered Chinese procurement team arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a spending spree that local media said could be worth billions of dollars. The delegation, comprising 61 company representatives, is the most ambitious in a series of mainland purchasing missions to visit Taiwan, according to the island's ruling Kuomintang party, which facilitated the trip. "The value of the group's procurement may exceed those of the previous Chinese purchasing delegations," Chang Jung-kung, the Kuomintang's deputy secretary general, said in a statement. The delegation will see local manufacturers in one-on-one meetings Tuesday, aiming to buy products ranging from food and chemicals to artificial fibre and flat panels.

Chang did not indicate how much the mission planned to spend, but the Taipei-based Economic Daily News said the visit could see orders worth three billion US dollars being signed. The delegation was led by Liang Baohua, the chief of the Communist Party in east China's Jiangsu province, one of the highest-level members of the party to ever visit Taiwan. "We'll inaugurate a Jiangsu Week event tomorrow, during which of course, some procurement contracts which you have been very concerned about will be signed," Liang told reporters upon his arrival. Taiwan and China have been ruled separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory and has vowed to get it back, by force if necessary. Ties have improved markedly since May last year when the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou assumed office as the island's president.
by Staff Writers
Taipei (AFP) Nov 9, 2009
About 1,000 Taiwanese have launched a 49-day round-the-island walk to call for a referendum on a controversial trade agreement with China, organisers said Monday.

Participants have decided to hit the road amid fears the government wants to push through the much-anticipated Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement with China without consulting the public, they said.

"Affairs between Taiwan and China must be decided in a referendum. The government cannot make that decision single-handedly," said Chen Chen-tzi, a member of the People's Sovereignty Movement, which organised the walk.

The walk kicked off Sunday in Taipei, where it is scheduled to end on December 26, she told AFP.

While 1,000 participated on the first day, the number fell on Monday as some of the participants had to work, she added.

On its website, the movement said it was concerned about the future of the island under the China-friendly government of President Ma Ying-jeou.

"Any changes across the Taiwan Strait will impact the island's security and future. The 23 million people here have the right to decide and bear the consequences of their decisions," the movement said.

Details of the pact have not been made public, but the Ma administration says it will boost the flow of goods and personnel and help the island tackle the global downturn.

Taiwan's media Monday quoted the head of China's Cabinet-level Taiwan Affairs Office, Wang Yi, as saying China is ready to sign the agreement, while Taiwanese officials are aiming to ink it early next year.

China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still considers the island part of its territory and wants it back, by force if need be.

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