Sun, Sep 07, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Lee leads 150,000 in name-change rally

WHAT'S IN A NAME?The former president said that the ROC has not existed since 1949 and it's now time to let the people choose their own destiny

By Chang Yun-Ping  /  STAFF REPORTER

Former president Lee Teng-hui, center, waves his cap during a demonstration in Taipei yesterday demanding that Taiwan be called Taiwan. Lee later delivered a speech in front of the Presidential Office.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Up to 150,000 people from around the nation yesterday marched on the Presidential Office in Taipei to campaign to change the country's official name to Taiwan.

Chanting "I love Taiwan" and "Taiwan for the UN," marchers converged on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office carrying flags and banners under yesterday's blazing-hot afternoon sun.

Organizers of the event, the Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan, estimated that between 120,000 and 150,000 people took part in the demonstration. Taipei City Police Department said 75,000 attended the march.

No major disturbances were reported.

Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), who is leading nationwide efforts to rename the country, appeared on stage in front of the Presidential Office, telling the crowd that the rectification campaign had woken up the entire nation to the fact that a name change is needed to reflect the reality that the ROC doesn't exist anymore.

Surrounded by his family, Lee said, "Our country is not a normal country, as Taiwan is not able to walk its own way based on its own historical and geographical conditions. Over the course of the past centuries, Taiwan has always been influenced by foreign powers so that the people of Taiwan are not able to decide their own national goal and choose their own governmental institutions."

Lee also expressed his personal reasons for championing the campaign's cause.

"As the president of the ROC for 12 years, I found that the most difficult situation that Taiwan faced came from the name `ROC.'" Lee said. "All the diplomatic difficulties and domestic problems evolved around this unrealistic name. That's why after I retired, I wanted to be the national convener of this campaign to allow our nation and the national name to exist according to facts."

Lee said that the facts show that Taiwan has never been a part of the ROC and that the ROC has not existed since the Communist Party ousted the KMT from China.

"The ROC has had no territory but a title since its territory was occupied by the Chinese communists in 1949. Also, it has disappeared from the international community since its seat in the United Nations was replaced by the People's Republic of China in 1971."

Still recovering from last Monday's heart surgery, Lee said, "The land occupied by the ROC actually belongs to the Taiwanese people. I believe one day we will call out aloud the name of our country -- Taiwan."

Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) failed to attend the rally, despite assurances from organizers that she would be there.

Organizer Wang Cheng-chung (王正中) said, "Although the vice president didn't show up, we are still pleased for the support President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) gave to us when he said, `If I weren't the president, I would have jointed the rally myself.'"

The DPP yesterday also drew as many as 30,000 rank-and-file supporters from around the nation to join the rally. Led by deputy secretaries general Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) and Lee Chin-yung (李進勇), a total of 40 party lawmakers yesterday also participated in the event.

Also See Stories:

A walk in the sun for `Taiwan'

March sets stage for election battle

Chen keeps his distance from campaign

No need for name change, KMT and PFP leaders say

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