Sun, Mar 27, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Standing up for peace

In what is being called the largest protest to ever be held in a single city in Taiwan, around 1 million people turned out on the streets to protest China's `Anti-Secession' Law

By Jewel Huang and Huang Tai-lin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A 63 year-old retired lawyer surnamed Chu () said that he could not stand China's ambition to swallow up Taiwan, saying that taking to the streets was the least he could do for the land he lives in.

"We don't accept China's military threats and we won't allow this law to become a long-term menace to our country," Chu said. "China's threatening to deal with Taiwan's independence using `non peaceful means' only exposes the Communist Party's vicious nature."

Frenchman Thomas Lecoq, 23, one of the numerous foreigners who participated in the march, praised the magnificent scene of yesterday's protest, saying he was touched by the people of Taiwan's passion and sincerity.

"It is so beautiful and impressive. I totally support Taiwan's appeals and support Taiwan's democracy," Lecoq said. "I think China's law is bad and Taiwan absolutely has to say aloud it rejects China's rule."

THE PRESIDENT

Realizing his promise to take part in "the historic sacred moment ... and to march with and stand alongside the people of Taiwan," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) yesterday joined the hundreds of thousands of marchers in the rally, marking the first time in Taiwan's history that a serving head of state has taken part in a street demonstration.

Starting from his residence at approximately 3:05pm, Chen appeared at the intersection along one of the protest routes between Renai Road and Hangzhou S Road.

Accompanied by his daughter, Chen Hsing-yu (陳幸妤), his son-in-law Chao Chien-ming (趙建銘), and his two-year-old grandson, Chao Yi-an (趙翊安), the president's appearance at the march instantly drew a loud cheer and commotion from the high-spirited protesters.

Chen's appearance also caused brief chaos among the media, particularly among photojournalists, who began walking backwards to try and get a shot of the president.

First lady Wu Shu-jen (吳淑珍), suffering from a cold, did not take part in the march on the advice of her doctors. Chen's three-month-old grandson, Chao Chien-ting (趙翊庭), was also absent from the rally, as was Chen's son Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), who is currently studying at the University of California, Berkeley.

Holding an inflatable baton in each hand, Chen, beaming with smiles, chanted "oppose aggression, love peace and protect Taiwan" and waved to bystanders many of whom called out "President Chen! President Chen!" in excitement.

Accompanying the president in the march were the Presidential Office's chief aide-de-camp, Major-General Shen Po-chih (申伯之), Presidential Office Deputy Secretary-General Ma Yung-cheng (馬永成), convener of the Presidential Office's medical task force, Huang Fang-yen (黃芳彥), and National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Hsueh Shih-ming (薛石民).

SECURITY

In a bid to ensure the security of Chen and members of the First Family, the high-profile group was also flanked by some 500 security personnel and plainclothes bodyguards. For security reaons, the detailed times and locations of Chen's appearance in the march were not made available to the press until two hours before his appearance, at 3pm.

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