TAIPEI: Taiwan legislators threw objects, splashed water and kicked one another on Thursday, sending two to the hospital in a brawl over how fast to ratify a trade pact with China that is shaping up as a pivotal election issue.
About a dozen anti-China opposition lawmakers set on blocking speedy approval of the economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) signed last week fought against about the same number of ruling Nationalists for control of the podium just minutes after the session opened.
A legislator from each side, one of whom fell from the podium, went to the hospital after the fight as the parliament speaker called a recess until Friday.
Parliament, dominated by the China-friendly Nationalists, is expected to approve the trade deal by next month at the latest. The Nationalists want to review the ECFA as a whole, while the opposition Democratic Progressive Party seeks a line-item review.
The brawl confirms the ECFA, the strongest tie-up ever between China and Taiwan, as a focus for tense Nov. 27 local elections seen as a barometer for the island's 2012 presidential race. Brawls are often staged so lawmakers appear strong via local television on issues of broad public concern.
Opponents of the ECFA say the deal cutting import tariffs on about 800 items could hurt small business with floods of Chinese goods. China claims sovereignty over the self-ruled island. AGENCIES