Taiwan’s parliament approves a bill pushing pro-China changes | Politics news

Thousands protested outside the Taiwanese parliament after the adoption of reforms considered to reduce the powers of the president.

Taiwan’s opposition-controlled legislature has ignored massive protests to push ahead with controversial legislative changes seen as favorable to China.

The laws adopted Tuesday, which were passed by the opposition Nationalist Kuomintang Party and the smaller Taiwan People’s Party, give lawmakers the power to require the president to make regular reports to Parliament and answer lawmakers’ questions. It also criminalizes contempt of Parliament by government officials.

Critics said the legislation was vague and lacked the necessary checks and balances to prevent its misuse.

The bill also gives the legislature increased control over budgets, including defense spending. The legislature would also be able to require the military, private companies or individuals to disclose information that parliamentarians consider relevant, but which some fear could jeopardize national security.

Opposition parties are seen as friendlier towards Beijing, which claims Taiwan as its own and has not ruled out using force to achieve its goal of unification.

They took control of the Legislative Council with a one-seat majority after elections in January, while William Lai Cheng Tee, who was sworn in last week, of the Democratic Progressive Party, won the presidency.

A supporter of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party holds a sunflower and a poster bearing the “Taiwante” slogan. I protect”, in front of the Legislative Building in Taipei [Chiang Ying-ying/AP Photo]

Garbage bags and kites

Thousands of people have been protesting against the legislation for days, and gathered again on Tuesday outside the Legislative Council. The Legislative Council was decorated with banners promoting both sides of the conflict, while arguments on the floor turned into screaming and pushing matches.

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DPP lawmakers accused lawmakers from the Kuomintang and the Trans-Pacific Partnership of undermining democracy in Taiwan, saying the reforms were imposed without proper consultation and that their content was either vague or an abuse of power.

Lawmakers from the ruling party threw garbage bags and kites at their opposition counterparts while voting on the bill.

“You can seize parliament, but you cannot seize public opinion,” Kiir Chien-ming, parliamentary leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, said in a speech to the council, adding that Beijing has influenced Taiwanese politics.

Opposition representatives, carrying sun-shaped balloons, chanted: “Let sunlight enter Parliament.”

China sends planes and ships near Taiwan on a daily basis in a campaign of intimidation aimed at wearing down Taiwan and putting pressure on its defenses. The United States is the region’s strongest political ally, despite the lack of official diplomatic relations.

Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said on Tuesday that three Chinese warplanes and 11 navy and coast guard ships had been spotted in the past 24 hours, down from the 21 aircraft and 15 ships it announced on Monday.

Beijing began large-scale war maneuvers around Taiwan last Thursday in a show of force after Lai’s inauguration on May 21.

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