Thousands of pro-independence marchers took to the streets in Taipei yesterday afternoon to demonstrate their will to defend the nation, and protest against the pan-blue opposition's ongoing obstruction of the special budget for US arms.
A policeman at the scene estimated the crowd at 20,000, but there was no official count given. Event organizers gave much higher estimates.
The march was organized by the World Federation of Taiwanese Associations and the Hand-in-Hand Taiwan Alliance. Joining them were members of the World United Formosans for Independence, the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and social groups.
PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUN, TAIPEI TIMES
Participants assembled at 2pm at Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall and began streaming into the streets at 3pm, marching down Xinyi Road, Hangzhou S Road and Zhongshan S Road. The protesters ended up on Ketagelan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office, where a succession of speeches was delivered by pro-independence leaders. The march was peaceful and no trouble was reported.
"All participants want to let the world know that Taiwanese hope that their country can possess advanced weapons to resist China and that they are determined to defend themselves. This is why we stand here today," Ng Chiau-tong (黃昭堂), the head of the alliance and chairman of World United Formosans for Independence, told the crowd.
Yesterday's parade was marked by less energy and passion than past pro-independence rallies, and important political figures such as President Chen Shui-bian (
Northern Taiwan Society chairman Wu Shuh-min (吳樹民), the executive chief of the march, suggested recalling opposition lawmakers who have boycotted the arms procurement bill.
"The Legislative Yuan has degenerated into the opposition parties' political arena since the pan-blues lost power in 2000," Wu said. "Bills concerning people's livelihood and welfare have been detained in the legislature, and the arms bill that is crucial to national security did not even obtain the rational discussion it deserves, and was vetoed 29 times because of the pan-blue lawmakers' malicious boycott."
"Such a legislature is worthless and should be recalled, because [opposition lawmakers] don't even know which country is their real motherland," Wu said.
Most of the march participants were pro-independence stalwarts who joined in the 228 Hand-in-Hand rally held last year and the large-scale march against China's "Anti-Secession" Law held on March 26.
A 53-year-old clothing factory owner, who only gave his family name, Lin (
Lin said that although the turnout yesterday seemed rather light, "I think most Taiwanese agreed that we need adequate arms to resist China and protect ourselves."
A 25-year-old man surnamed Chang (
"I support Taiwan's independence and I think Taiwan will be independent in the long run. But first and foremost, Taiwan has to have the power to protect itself," said Chang, who has taken part in pro-independence activities since college.
"Although I don't think every purchase listed in the arms sales bill is necessary, the reality is that the US will not assist in Taiwan's defense if we don't buy them," he said.
Kang, an elementary school teacher who is also 25, said that although yesterday's parade might not sway pan-blue lawmakers, through media reports of the event, the world would know that many Taiwanese are strongly committed to defending Taiwan.
MAKING A MOVE: Starting on Monday, short-term business travelers can apply for shorter quarantine periods, while transits of up to eight hours would be allowed The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday announced an easing of restrictions that would from Monday next week allow foreigners to visit or make a transit flight in Taiwan. A policy allowing short-term business travelers from countries with low or medium risks of COVID-19 infections to apply for shorter quarantine periods is also to resume that day. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that while the autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program is to be extended after the end of this month, special conditions for foreign nationals to enter Taiwan would be restored from Monday. Foreign nationals
SPY GAMES: For more than 20 years, intelligence officers traveled to China, where they identified other MIB personnel and allegedly traded secrets for money and gifts The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted four retired Military Intelligence Bureau (MIB) officials, who are accused of providing China with a list of bureau personnel and other classified materials while attempting to recruit colleagues into a spy network in Taiwan. Prosecutors charged Chang Chao-jan (張超然), Chou Tien-tzu (周天慈) and Wang Ta-wang (王大旺), former colonels at the bureau, and Yueh Chih-chung (岳志忠) — a former major general and chief of the MIB’s Fifth Bureau, where he was in charge of sending agents to China on covert assignments — with breaches of the National Security Act (國家安全法) and the National Intelligence Services
CONTINUED VIGILANCE: People would still be required to wear masks at eight types of public spaces and border controls would continue, Chen Shih-chung told reporters The government’s autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program is to continue beyond Sunday, but eating and drinking on high-speed trains would be allowed from Monday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that while there were no new confirmed cases in Taiwan yesterday, the global COVID-19 situation remains serious, so the autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program would be extended beyond its Sunday deadline. “Border control measures, including requiring a negative polymerase chain reaction test result obtained within three days of boarding a plane to Taiwan, and undergoing quarantine in a
MORE RISK? Three Taiwanese family members were found to have the Brazilian variant, which CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo said might be more infectious From Wednesday, all travelers who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days are required to be quarantined at a centralized facility after arriving in Taiwan and undergo a COVID-19 test upon ending quarantine, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that starting from 12am on Wednesday, all travelers arriving from Brazil, including those who have transited through the country in the past 14 days, would have to stay at a centralized quarantine facility. “They will be tested for COVID-19 upon completing the 14-day quarantine, and they