|Pro-China activists march to dislodge student protesters
Hundreds of Taiwanese protesters who support a controversial trade pact with China clashed with police today when they tried to push their way towards parliament, which has been occupied by students for two weeks.
The demonstrators, many wearing red headbands reading: “Want service trade pact, want jobs,'' shoved and shouted as they tried to push through a police cordon to confront the 200 students, who have barricaded themselves inside the parliament's main chamber.
Police had strengthened the cordon, which lies one block away from the parliament building, after a pro-China group threatened to retake it from the students by force.
The protesters pushed hard against the 300-strong cordon several times, an AFP reporter at the scene said, but failed to break the security line, which included elite squads carrying shields.
They waved placards that said, “Illegal occupation of parliament'' and ''Students go home'' while shouting similar slogans and blowing whistles.
The protesters also shouted “Lin Fei-fan coward!’’ “Chen Wei-ting coward!’’ referring to the two student leaders of the parliament seizure which began on March 18, the first in Taiwan's history.
The protest in favor of the pact was organized by Chang An-lo, a prominent Taiwanese gang leader also known as “White Wolf,’’ who is on bail after being arrested on his return to Taiwan from China, where he had fled 17 years previously. He faces charges relating to organized crime.
He is known for his pro-China stance and is currently the chairman of a minor pro-unification party.
“The students have kidnapped the parliament which belongs to all people and they have held the parliament hostage ... they are bandits,'' Chang said.