Thousands Join Taiwan Protest, Anger Focused On U.S. Pork

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TAIPEI: Thousands of people took to the streets of Taipei on Sunday for the annual “Fall Struggle” protest march organized by labor groups, with much of the anger focused on the government’s decision to alleviate the restrictions on imports of US pork.

Taiwan’s main opposition party, the Kuomintang (KMT), rallied its supporters to join the march for the first time, after mounting an increasingly fierce campaign against the pork ruling, which it said threatens food security.

President Tsai Ing-wen announced in August that the government would allow imports of American pork containing ractopamine, an additive that improves leanness, from January 1, but is banned in the European Union and China. , as well as American beef for over 30 months. old.

Although well received in Washington and lifting an obstacle to a US free trade agreement for Taiwan for a long time, the KMT strongly opposed the move, tapping into public concerns about food safety after several high-profile scandals these last years.

KMT chairman Johnny Chiang, elected in March to help turn party fortunes around after a run in the January presidential and legislative elections, called on Tsai to participate in a televised debate on the issue.

“Taiwanese pigs don’t eat ractopamine and yet you ask Taiwanese to do it?” Does that make sense? ”He told supporters.

Tsai’s government and his ruling Progressive Democratic Party (DPP), which has a large majority in parliament, say the move brings the island up to international standards, does not pose a security threat and will strengthen relations between Taiwan and the United States.

In a statement on Sunday, the DPP urged the KMT to “stop its political machinations and resume rational discussions.”

The DPP, which had previously expressed strong objections to ractopamine, accused the KMT of spreading false news on the subject in an attempt to instill fear in the public.

The KMT is also trying to hold a referendum on US pork imports.

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