Tue, Sep 25, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Standing up for Taiwan

Hundreds march in Manhattan to rally for UN membership and call out China’s aggression

By Chris Fuchs  /  Contributing reporter in New York

Supporters of Taiwan gather near the Manhattan consulate of the People’s Republic of China to rally for Taiwan’s inclusion in the UN and protest China’s aggression.

Photo courtesy of Chris Fuchs

As the UN General Assembly convenes in New York, supporters of Taiwan hit the streets of Manhattan Saturday to protest the country’s exclusion from the UN amid China’s ramped-up efforts to shrink Taiwan’s space on the international stage.

The annual march, which began near the People’s Republic of China consulate on 42nd Street, was expected to attract between 300 and 500 people, said Gloria Hu (胡慧中) of Keep Taiwan Free, a grassroots movement that helped organize the event.

It attracted a mix of young and old Taiwanese Americans and Canadians, overseas Taiwanese, supporters of Tibet and others, who walked together to Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, a space fenced in by New York Police Department metal barricades just a few blocks away from the UN building.

Also in attendance were New Power Party Legislator Hsu Yung-ming (徐永明), as well as Democratic Progressive Party legislators Lin Ching-yi (林靜儀), Lee Li-feng (李麗芬) and Chen Man-li (陳曼麗).

The march and rally, held annually for more than 20 years, comes as the 73rd regular session of the UN General Assembly kicked off on Sept. 18.

CHINESE OPPOSITION

While Taiwan’s government has maintained an approach of not actively seeking UN membership, demonstrators said they were still hopeful that the island nation — one of just a few countries excluded from the UN — would someday get back the seat it lost in 1971, when it was given to China.

“We would like to see a harder push, especially now with this escalating aggression from the Chinese government,” Hu said.

That aggression includes China pressuring international airlines to exclude references on their Web sites to Taiwan as a country, jailing Taiwanese human rights advocate Lee Ming-che (李明哲) and escalating military action around Taiwan.

China has also been poaching allies from Taiwan, bringing the number of countries that have diplomatic relations with Taiwan to just 17.

Beijing has repeatedly opposed Taiwan’s entry into the UN, claiming it as its own and saying Taiwan is not a sovereign state.

Joshua Wang (王中煒), a 30-year-old raised in Taiwan who marched for the first time Saturday, said he came to protest what he called the “Chinese Communist Party’s repression against Taiwan.”

He said China’s demand that foreign airlines eliminate references to Taiwan as a country on their Web sites and in marketing materials was what jolted him into action.

“I had to stand up and do something for my motherland, Taiwan,” Wang said.

This year, Hu said they also organized a series of events for the week leading up to the march.

STAND UP TO CHINA’S BULLYING

One was a joint rally with groups including Tibetans, Southern Mongolians and Uyghurs, who protested against Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) last Tuesday outside UN headquarters, according to Hu.

They also launched a bike ad campaign last Monday. Large billboards, five in all, have been towed by bikes in parts of Manhattan to raise awareness about China’s treatment of Taiwan.

“How have five countries been coerced to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan since 2016?” one of the ads reads. “Find out at taiwanmatters.com. Stand up to China’s bullying across the globe.”

Hu said the bikes had been going out for five hours a day, every day since last Monday, targeting foot and commuter traffic. They’ve made the rounds near Penn Station, the Port Authority Bus Terminal, the UN, in Midtown and the Flatiron District, as well as Washington Square Park, according to Hu.

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