TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — About 300 university students gathered outside Taiwan's legislative house Sunday evening, kicking off a scheduled 31-hour demonstration to mark the anniversary of a movement that occupied the island's parliament.
The students are planning a Monday night march around the compound that hundreds of student-led activists occupied for 24 days last March in what became known as the Sunflower Movement.
Last year's actions set back Taiwan's relations with China and continue to be felt. The students are demanding that officials deal cautiously with old enemy China amid public worries that Taiwan is getting too economically close to Beijing.
"Economic integration between China and Taiwan moved beyond what the center of gravity of public opinion in Taiwan could tolerate," said Denny Roy, senior fellow at the East-West Center think tank in Honolulu, recalling last year's occupation. "The inevitable effect has been to slow down this integration."
Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the Chinese civil war of the 1940s, but Taiwanese prize their democratic self-rule. President Ma Ying-jeou's Nationalist Party government began talking to the eager Communist leadership in 2008, leading to a batch of agreements that authorities said would help Taiwan's economy.
But protesters last year questioned the transparency of the deals with Beijing and whether Taiwan should sign them at all while the two sides are politically at odds.
The activist group Black Island Nation Youth Front organized the Sunday-Monday demonstration to pressure lawmakers into approving a bill that would strengthen oversight over future agreements with China.