(Bloomberg) -- Protesters took to the streets in Taiwan Friday night as opposition lawmakers pushed ahead with a bill intended to curtail the powers of the new president, Lai Ching-te.

Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the legislature in Taipei, while smaller demonstrations were reported in other cities around the democratic island of 23 million people.

The protesters, many of them backers of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party, are angry about legislation put forward by opposition parties that would expand lawmakers’ powers to investigate the government.

The opposition Kuomintang, China’s preferred negotiating partner in the chipmaking hub, had pushed to finalize the amendments as early as Friday. 

The president’s party was able to slow the passage of the bill, ensuring it wasn’t approved before the meeting adjourned around 11:30 p.m. local time. Crowds are expected to gather again Tuesday when the parliament session on the bill is scheduled to resume. 

The protests Friday were peaceful, with many people sitting on stools while students, politicians and others took turns to speak on stages amid a festive-like atmosphere. 

Lai voiced his support for the protesters on social media and accused the opposition of trying to rush the bill through without a full debate and “constantly forcing votes.”

Read More: Why Protesters in Taiwan Are Angry With Lawmakers: QuickTake

The ruling party has said it fears the amendments could become a tool for the opposition to tie Lai’s government down in battles with the legislature during his four years in office. That could also impair his ability to enact policies in the island that sits at the heart of China-US tensions.

The US, the island’s main military backer, is encouraging Taiwan to revamp its armed forces so it can better deter any attack by China. Beijing has pledged to bring Taiwan under its control eventually, by force if necessary.

The divide between Washington and Beijing was on display earlier this week when Lai took office. China condemned US Secretary of State Antony Blinken for congratulating Lai, sanctioned a former US congressman who supported Taipei and hit US defense companies with symbolic sanctions.

Beijing also signaled it will maintain the kind of pressure on Lai that it has for the past eight years under his predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen. China kicked off two days of drills around Taiwan on Thursday, which marked its biggest exercises targeting the island since April last year, when Tsai met then-House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the US. 

Read More: China Holds Biggest Military Drills in a Year Around Taiwan

China said the latest drills were intended to “serve as a strong punishment for the separatist acts of ‘Taiwan independence’ forces and a stern warning against the interference and provocation by external forces” — an apparent reference to Washington’s backing for the island. 

The changes the opposition lawmakers are seeking would expand the legislature’s ability to summon people from a range of backgrounds — including the president — to answer their questions as part of investigations. Individuals who resists could be fined or jailed.

Demonstrators say the amendments have been rushed through the legislature in ways that ignored procedure, and accused the opposition of working with China to kill democracy. The KMT says it has followed all the rules, and the governing party is obstructing badly needed reforms to parliament.

Some protesters waved placards that read: “I’m disregarding the black box parliament.”

Others traveled from out of town to make their voices heard. Momo Huang, a 38-year-old mother who brought her family from Changhua county on the island’s west coast, said she came because she was worried the opposition lawmakers weren’t acting transparently.

“We’re here to show them we have the right to express our feelings,” she said while putting ear protectors on her young son.

--With assistance from Spe Chen, Jacob Gu and Debby Wu.

(Updates with protesters’ plans in fifth paragraph, President Lai’s comments in seventh paragraph.)

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