Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou said Wednesday that he could accept some of the demands lodged by student protesters over the trade-in-services pact with China, but rejected their call to withdraw the agreement from the Legislature.
Taipei-based Central News Agency reported.
"We are not uncompromising. But on key issues like taking the services pact out of lawmakers'''' hands, we cannot yield," Ma said during a meeting of the ruling Nationalist Party''''s Central Standing Committee, according to the report.
Calling the pact a major policy, Ma reportedly said he will stand firm despite the calls from protesters, who have occupied the Legislative Yuan since March 18th, to shelve the pact until a law governing oversight of cross-strait agreements is passed.
The president was quoted as saying that he plans to work with Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng to resolve the stalemate over the pact "because we are in the right, and we will continue to make efforts to effect change bit by bit." "We can accept the demands of the students as long as they don''''t run counter to our ideals," Ma added.
The occupation began on March 18, a day after the ruling party announced that it will seek the ratification of the pact without an item-by-item review by lawmakers.
The trade deal was signed last June, but has not yet been ratified. The protesters are demanding the government to abandon the controversial trade deal that will open up further trade in services between China and Taiwan, saying Taiwan will be unified with China if the pact comes into effect.
Earlier in the day, a commander of the student protesters occupying the Legislature said he would only agree to dialogue between the students and President Ma if lawmakers are granted the ability to make changes to the controversial pact.
Ma has several times called for the student protesters to end their occupation, while repeating his offer for a dialogue to end the standoff. On Sunday, more than 110,000 people took to the streets of Taipei to protest the trade deal.
China and Taiwan separated after a civil war in 1949, but Beijing still sees the island as its territory.
Taiwan''''s relations with China have eased since Ma, who has pledged to improve ties with China, first became Taiwan''''s president in 2008