Taipei: Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou was sworn in for his second and last four-year term, as the opposition rallied against utility hikes and beef imports from the United States. In his inaugural speech to hundreds of dignitaries from the island and abroad Sunday Ma, who was re-elected in January, vowed to pursue free trade agreements with other countries and continue rapprochement policies with China.

But the beginning of his second term in office was greeted with angry protests, during which hundreds of demonstrators pelted eggs at a huge portrait of the head of state.

Ma has come under fire over a recent series of moves including "double hikes" in fuel and electricity prices amid a slowing economy and rising inflation.

His government's plan to allow imports of US beef treated with the growth drug ractopamine also triggered several protests by local farmers.

Ma was elected in 2008 on a China-friendly platform and his government hailed fast improving ties with Beijing during his first term, with a major trade pact signed by the two sides in 2010.

Taiwan and China split in 1949 after a civil war. However, Beijing still claims the island as part of its territory awaiting unification, by force if necessary.


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