Mon, Sep 08, 2003 - Page 1 News List

Pro-unification forces take to the street


Flouting instructions from organizers not to wave flags, a protester tries to fly the Republic of China flag from his car during the anti-independence march in Taipei yesterday afternoon.


Thousands took to the streets to pronounce their anti-independence stance yesterday after Saturday's march calling for the Republic of China (ROC) to adopt "Taiwan" as its official name.

Demonstrators in yesterday morning's event defended the ROC name, and activists in a separate march in the afternoon called on citizens to "oppose Taiwan independence in order to save Taiwan."

The scale of yesterday's two rallies, however, was far short of Saturday's demonstration, which organizers estimate drew up to 150,000. According to the Taipei City Police Department, about 7,000 joined the morning rally, and over 3,000 participated in the afternoon march.

The crowd in the morning rally, most of whom were carrying ROC flags, gathered at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.

Both Chiang Fang Chih-yi (蔣方智怡), late president Chiang Ching-kuo's (蔣經國) daughter in-law, and New Party Chairman Yok Mu-ming (郁慕明) addressed the protesters at the event, organized by the Republic of China Association of Professors (中華民國教師協會).

"Whoever said that the Republic of China does not exist anymore is an enemy of the state. We can never let other countries think that rectifying Taiwan's name is what the Taiwanese majority wants," Chiang said.

"The Republic of China lives on Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu. It was established as the first democratic and free country in Asia through the efforts of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and many others. The country was established in 1911 and that is a historical fact," she said.

Yok said that he loved the Republic of China and those attending the march.

"No one here approves of rushing reunification. Those rushing independence are really rushing reunification," Yok said.

Meanwhile, the march in the afternoon was convened by the pro-communist Chinese Unification Alliance (中國統一聯盟). Few national flags were seen due to the alliance's specific requirement that no flag be waved. Each participant was given a red T-shirt with the slogan "Oppose Taiwan Independence and Save Taiwan" and a map of China with the words "Chinese" on it.

"We want to ask the government to drop the budget for military purchases and use the money for better welfare instead since China is really not an enemy. We also want a better economy," said Hsieh Hsiang-wen (謝向文), spokesman for the alliance.

The alliance also condemned what it sees as the US and Japan's manipulation of Taiwan, saying the two countries were trying to encourage Taiwan's independence and the separation of Taiwan from China.

Many high-school students, absent from most political activities in the country, attended the march. But when asked why they went to the event, many said they were urged to do so by their friends.

"We want to be sunny teenagers," said one student.

Another said, "A friend urged us to come so we came along. It's fun and my friends get to be together."

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