Mon, Mar 17, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan takes to streets in huge rallies

LOUD AND CLEAR Hundreds of thousands of people gathered at campaign events, with the DPP candidate speaking in Taipei and the KMT's candidate in Tainan

By Ko Shu-ling and Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTERS , IN TAIPEI AND TAINAN

Supporters of Democratic Progressive Party candidate Frank Hsieh hold placards at a campaign rally in Taipei yesterday.

PHOTO: VINCENT YU, AP

Senior members of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) led their supporters in giant rallies across the country yesterday, canvassing votes on Super Sunday for their respective presidential tickets as the election race entered its final week.

The DPP marked the anniversary of Beijing's "Anti-Secession" Law, which was on Friday, with a motorcade, including a truck carrying a giant golden index finger pointing to the sky and an 8m-tall wooden "Trojan horse."

The motorcade for DPP presidential candidate Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) and his running mate Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) included the Trojan horse as a symbol of the dangers posed by the "cross-strait common market" proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), the DPP said.

If such a market were to be established, Hsieh said "men would not be able to find a job," "women would not be able to find a husband" and "soldiers would do their military service in Heilongjiang" in China.

Tens of thousands of DPP supporters gathered at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall to launch the rally, chanting "Taiwan, jiayou," an expression of encouragement, and "Frank Hsieh for president."

The DPP called the rally "1 million people high-five, come-back win."

Hsieh urged the public to unite to "protect your rice bowls by opposing the `one China' market" and "check power by opposing one-party rule."

The public needs to work together to "join the UN and oppose Chinese dictatorship," he said.

Hsieh also called on Ma to offer a clear account of why he had once said the future of the nation should be decided by the people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, but now says otherwise.

"I want to know what he means. China has 1.3 billion people and Taiwan has 23 million. How can they make a joint decision?" he said. "If Taiwan's future is jointly decided by both sides of the Strait, we will end up like Tibet. We must stop Ma's ridiculous proposition."

To mark the anniversary of China's "Anti-Secession" Law, which was enacted on March 14, 2005, DPP supporters gathered at 300 points across the country at 3:14pm, giving each other high-fives and wearing baseball caps backwards.

While Hsieh attended the rally in Taipei, Su attended a rally in Banciao (板橋), Taipei County, Vice President Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) was in Taoyuan County to lead supporters, Premier Chang Chun-hsiung (張俊雄) was in Taichung City, President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was in Tainan County, Kaohsiung City Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) was in Kaohsiung and former DPP chairman Yu Shyi-kun was in Ilan County. Hundreds of thousands of supporters rallied nationwide.

In a speech at Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Hsieh said he was opposed to the "one China market" and urged the KMT to immediately abandon the platform.

If elected, Hsieh promised to put the interests of the nation and the public first and to fight for the nation's security and dignity.

One supporter from the US, who gave his last name as Herbert and has lived here for seven years with his Taiwanese wife, said that he backed Hsieh although he could not vote.

"If he loses, I'm going to go back to America. I believe Taiwan will become part of China," he said. "I want to stay here for the rest of my life."

Stefan Braig, a researcher from Germany studying Taiwanese politics, said he had visited a rally for Ma before attending the DPP's. He said that he was attending the rallies to witness the development of democracy.

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