Mon, Mar 19, 2001 - Page 1 News List

Independence activists urge support for Chen

REPUBLIC OF TAIWAN?On the anniversary of the DPP victory in the presidential election, pro-independence activists marched to the Presidential Office yesterday, with some calling on all Taiwanese to unify to fight encroachment by China

By Chuang Chi-ting  /  STAFF REPORTER

A vendor sells Republic of Taiwan passports and copies of the controversial comic book On Taiwan by Japanese cartoonist Yoshinori Kobayashi in front of Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, the starting point of yesterday's pro-independence rally and march.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Cheering "Say yes Taiwan, say no to China," roughly 5,000 advocates of Taiwan independence yesterday marched to the Presidential Office, calling for support from Taiwanese people worldwide for President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and the establishment of the Republic of Taiwan.

On the first anniversary of the DPP victory in the 2000 presidential election, a large-scale parade was staged by the "Taiwan Nation Stands Up Coalition," composed of a number of pro-Taiwan independence groups. The World Taiwanese Congress, an organization founded in December by overseas Taiwanese from different countries who also hold a pro-independence stance, also participated in the march.

Before the event started, some also declared their pro-independence position by obtaining a "Republic of Taiwan" passport.

Carrying DPP flags and signboards reading "support Taiwan independence," those who joined the march blamed opposition parties for having caused chaos in society by thinking purely of their parties' interest. The march called for a joint effort by all Taiwanese people to empower the country.

"We are here to wake these people [who are pro-unification] who do not love Taiwan," said Stephen Lee (李勝雄), secretary-general of the World United Formosans for Independence (台獨建國聯盟) and general director of the march.

"We must unify to fight the PRC that encroaches on Taiwan," Lee added.

"There is still a long way to go before the establishment of the Republic of Taiwan. We should be patient and give Chen's government more time," appealed another leader of the event to the crowd.

Chen has been blasted for not insisting on the pro-independence stance of his party since taking over the presidency.

Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), a senior DPP adviser to the president, said, "We shall speak loudly that Taiwan is a new country from now on!"

Apart from Yao, two other senior advisers to the president, Lee Chen-yuan (李鎮源) and Ku Kuan-min (辜寬敏), participated in yesterday's event. National policy adviser to the president Huang Hua (黃華), Wu Shu-min (吳樹民) and Alice King (金美齡) were also present. King has caused controversy since defending the comic book On Taiwan and denying that she is an official of the ROC.

King candidly cast the ROC as "extinct" and for this, yesterday was regarded as a star by Taiwan independence supporters. Many participants swarmed toward King to shake her hand or to have their picture taken with her.

Some DPP lawmakers also joined the march.

The only Cabinet member to show up was Huang Tsung-le (黃宗樂), chairman of the Fair Trade Commission, but he didn't join the crowd. Previously, Huang and other Cabinet members were heavily criticized by opposition parties who said they had failed to remain neutral by participating in an anti-nuclear demonstration.

Chen Chin-chiung (陳金) and Cheng Kai-jen (鄭凱仁), participants in the event, blasted opposition parties, saying they had handicapped the Cabinet because they cannot face their failure in the last presidential election.

"Besides, pro-unification politicians brainwashed by the KMT cling to China because they expect benefits given by China," Cheng said.

The two also agreed with King. "The ROC simply doesn't exist anymore. Everybody [from the international community] has recognized the island as Taiwan," Chen said. "We should not deceive ourselves. A country's name is not so sacred that it cannot be changed."

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