Taiwan is seeking closer economic ties with its largest trading partner through a key trade deal with China, amid swelling anti-Beijing protests on the island, AFP reports.

China’s chief negotiator Chen Yunlin and his Taiwanese counterpart Chiang Pin-kung will meet in high-level talks to negotiate and sign an investment pact framed under the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement (ECFA) of 2010. The deal is believed to be aimed at boosting bilateral trade and protecting Taiwanese corporations and businessmen on the mainland. Taiwan has more than 80,000 companies on the mainland and has made investments worth $100 billion over the years.

Protesters claimed that the deal will only give China leverage over Taiwan and demanded the island’s independence from the mainland. Anti-Beijing sentiment escalated when China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou was re-elected as Taiwanese president. According to AFP, 16 agreements have been signed between the two countries since Ma was sworn in in 2008.