Many foreigners joined the protest on Saturday to support the pan-green camp’s views and experience the atmosphere of a local political rally.
The rally was organized by the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and a number of pro-localization groups, opposing substandard Chinese products, the “one China” principle, the recognition of Chinese diplomas and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) pro-China policies. Protesters also accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government of incompetence.
Maddalena, an Italian who came to Taiwan four years ago to study Chinese philosophy, said that demonstrations in Taiwan are quite different from those in her native country, where protests against educational reform took place recently.
“Most of the protesters in Italy are young and intellectual, while here we can see many middle-aged and elderly people,” she said in fluent Mandarin, adding that rallies generally had a peaceful atmosphere.
Some foreigners who participated in the protest were sympathetic to its outlook and demands.
A Japanese who works in Taiwan said he joined the rally to express opposition to China, as Japan and Taiwan both have had to deal with unsafe food imports from their giant neighbor and the economic threat posed by China, which has drawn considerable investment from Japanese companies.
He said, however, that in Japan, protest marches are generally organized by nongovernmental associations and that people rally spontaneously, while most protesters in Taiwan seem to be mobilized by political parties.
Kathryn, an Australian who has studied in Taipei for two months, said it would be best for Taiwan to remain independent from China to safeguard its democracy.
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