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President Ma met by protests at Academia Sinica
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-04-17 06:52 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Ma Ying-jeou was met by protesters against the trade-in-services pact during a visit to the Academia Sinica Thursday morning.

He was visiting Taiwan’s most prestigious academic institution to deliver a speech about his policies toward the Tiaoyutai Islands, over which he reiterated the country’s sovereignty claims.

Groups involved in the student occupation of the Legislative Yuan from March 18 to April 10 had made online calls on their supporters earlier in the week to appear at the Academia Sinica to “welcome” Ma.

Researchers and assistants at the institution received the president with shouts calling on him to listen more to public opinion and to restore constitutional order. Prominent former Institute of Sociology researcher Chiu Hei-yuan condemned the president. “Just because President Ma and Premier Jiang Yi-huah are stupid, they should not think other people are more stupid than them,” he told reporters.

During Ma’s speech inside, researcher Chen Yi-shen and a French colleague held up placards with the words “Legislate first, review later,” a reference to the occupiers’ demand that lawmakers first pass a framework law monitoring talks and agreements with China before they review the trade pact, reports said. Even though Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng acquiesced to the demand, the president has continued to insist that the two issues could be discussed simultaneously.

Ma did not react directly to the shouts and inscriptions, but he reportedly said he had heard the protests.

In his speech about the Tiaoyutai, which are disputed with Japan and China, the president emphasized Taiwan’s sovereignty claims and the need to find a peaceful solution. He pointed out the country’s location as the hub of East Asia, describing it as the center of regional economic integration and of a regional security challenge.

Ma repeated his insistence on Taiwan’s sovereignty, the setting aside of disputes, mutual benefit and joint development, a doctrine which he said was valid both in the Tiaoyutai area and in the South China Sea, where a number of mostly uninhabited islands are the focus of disputes between Taiwan, the Philippines, China, Vietnam and Malaysia.

Only a diplomatic approach could resolve crisis and confrontation, Ma told the international seminar about the Tiaoyutai, which are known as Senkaku in Japan and as Diaoyu Islands in China.

He pointed out that the region might descend into war in a conflict over small islands after Japan announced the nationalization of the Tiaoyutai two years ago and after China’s unilateral announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone including the airspace above.

Taiwan’s sovereignty could not be divided, but resources could be shared for multilateral benefit, Ma said.

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