Taiwan’s two main opposition parties joined an annual labor-rights rally for the first time as tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei on Sunday in a march focused on opposition to imports of American pork containing an additive banned in the European Union.
Holding banners and placards, protesters shouted “no ractopamine pork, no double standards and no one-party rule.”
More than 50,000 people took part, according to representatives of the around 40 labor groups organizing the “Autumn Struggle” rally.
They marched from Ketagalan Boulevard outside the Presidential Office building and passed the Executive and Legislative Yuans before arriving at the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
President Tsai Ing-wen announced in August that her government would on Jan. 1 lift a long-standing ban on U.S. pork containing ractopamine, an additive that enhances leaness and is banned in Europe. Tsai’s move is seen as a step toward building closer economic ties with Washington.
The Kuomintang – which ruled Taiwan as a one-party state for four decades – set two giant inflated pig props at Liberty Square, calling for an apology from Tsai and the resignation of Premier Su Tseng-chang. Ma Ying-jeou, who led Taiwan from 2008-2016 during the KMT’s most recent stint in power, accused the ruling DDP of ruling as a dictatorship.
The Taiwan People’s Party called for strict supervision of food origins and clear labeling of imports.
Also joining the march was Tsai Eng-meng, a Taiwan businessperson who runs pro-Beijing CTi News. Last week, regulators said they would not be renewing CTi’s license when it expires next month. Tsai expressed his anger over the government’s decision.
Before the rally, organizers issued a statement urging the two major opposition parties not to hijack the event. They criticized Ma’s previous administration for doing serious harm to the interests of labor and for other policy issues.
The annual “Autumn Struggle” march has been held since 1988 with labor groups focusing on different issues each year.
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