March 24 - Taiwanese police spray crowds with water cannon amid anti-China trade pact protests, local media reports. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION). STORY:Taiwanese riot police turned water cannon on protesters in Taipei on Monday (March 24) as demonstrations continued against a controversial trade pact with mainland China, local media reported. Protesters had gathered around the Executive Yuan building on Sunday (March 23) evening before they were removed by police. On Monday morning some students could be seen packing up supplies, but many began demonstrating in front of the riot police present. At one point, police sprayed students with water cannon. One local television station reported that around 120 people were injured although police have yet to confirm this figure. Quoting a statement released by the Taipei police, local media said that over 30 people were arrested on site during Monday's deployment of riot officers. Opponents of the pact forced their way into the island's parliament last Tuesday (March 18), and have taken to the surrounding streets every day since then. President Ma Ying-jeou said the pact with Taiwan's main export market is essential for the island's prosperity. However, the main opposition party says it could hurt small service companies, and many others are reluctant to let China expand its influence over a fiercely independent and democratic territory that China still sees as a renegade province. Parliamentary approval of the agreement on April 8 would open 80 of China's service sectors to Taiwan and 64 Taiwanese sectors to China. Since 2008, President Ma has signed a series of landmark trade and economic agreements with China. Ma and his ruling Kuomintang Party say Taiwan needs the pact not only to maintain the competitiveness of its exports but also as an entry ticket to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a broad trade deal among 12 countries, spearheaded by the United States.