Sun, May 12, 2002 - Page 1 News List

`Taiwan' takes to the Taipei streets

PATRIOTIC PROTEST Shouting pro-Taiwan slogans, thousands of protesters marched through the capital in a shows of support for the campaign to change the nation's official name

By Lin Mei-chun  /  STAFF REPORTER

Participants in the ``511 Parade for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan'' march through downtown Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Amid loudspeaker trucks blasting Taiwanese folk songs, thousands of people took to the street in downtown Taipei yesterday, marching to advocate the use of "Taiwan" as the official name of the nation.

The three-hour peaceful event, entitled "511 Parade for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan," however, was briefly interrupted as marchers clashed with a small group of pro-unification supporters.

Wearing white T-shirts urging to "change the name to Taiwan" and purple headbands saying "the parade for Taiwan's correct name," the protesters shouted "we are Taiwanese" and "our nation's name is Taiwan."

The march, which attracted an estimated 10,000 participants, was said to be the biggest demonstration since the DPP took power two years ago.

The rally was organized by the "Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan" (台灣正名運動聯盟), composed of over 70 pro-Taiwan groups which have been promoting the name change to help Taiwan assert its place in the international community.

Before the march started, TSU chairman Huang Chu-wen (黃主文) read a statement prepared by former president and TSU spiritual leader Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

"Our mother is Taiwan, and we are the master of Taiwan. Irrespective of ethnic background, the country has been taking care of all Taiwanese -- generation after generation. Today, we should muster up the courage and shout `we are Taiwanese,'" the statement said.

Lee was absent from the event because his doctors suggested that the 79-year-old Lee not walk in the heat.

Lee stated that it is a known fact that China and Taiwan are two different countries given that China has never ruled Taiwan for a single day, nor has it imposed a tax on the people in Taiwan.

Bowing to China's pressure, many countries in the world do not recognize Taiwan as an independent nation, so Taiwanese should protest to the international community, Lee said.

The Reverend William Lo (羅榮光), a convener of the event and general-secretary of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan, told the crowd that the event was held to demand the entire world call the nation "Taiwan," which should not be confused with China.

He said the government has to instill the concept of the people being Taiwanese in textbooks so the next generations will not suffer from confused identities.

He also said that authorities need to promote "Taiwan" first in governmental agencies and embassies and later in the private sector.

"`China' or `Chinese' should be removed from the titles of state-run businesses, such as China Airlines, Chinese Petroleum Corp, China Shipbuilding Corp and China Steel Corp,' ... `Taiwan' should replace `Taipei' in many of our embassies," Lo said.

The ultimate goal is to enact a new Constitution for the Republic of Taiwan, he added.

Along the way, organizers wasted no time in rectifying names for several government buildings. They posted labels on Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and the Legislative Yuan, changing them into "Taiwan's National Memorial Hall" and "Taiwan's congress" respectively.

Prior to the start of the demonstration, a car with five men from the "Alliance for the Unification of China" cruised into the crowds, poised to block the rally.

The two sides traded barbs and threw rocks and sticks at each other. But the conflict was quelled by the police soon after it started.

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