Sun, May 12, 2002 - Page 3 News List

March shows civil groups' role

GROWING SUPPORT Observers say that yesterday's `511 Parade for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan' demonstrates that more and more people care about the name issue

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

The success of yesterday's "511 Parade for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan" shows that many people support changing the nation's name to Taiwan and that civil organizations can play a role in that change.

"After the 2000 presidential election, social movements on issues such as environmental protection, unemployment, or political matters, merely attracted around 3,000 to 5,000 people to march on the streets," said Lee Yung-chih (李永熾), a history professor at National Taiwan University.

"However, the issue of `Rectifying the name of Taiwan,' brought over 10,000 people to participate in the demonstration, showing that this issue, the main purpose of which is to enhance recognition of the country, deeply concerns people," Lee said.

Lee also stressed that the increase in people's awareness about rectifying the country's name should be credited to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝).

"The former president committed himself to advocating a `Taiwan First' policy and expounded on the importance of localization during his last term as president and after stepping down from power," Lee said.

"Due to his efforts, more and more people question why Taiwan can't use the name Taiwan, and almost all politicians have to pay lip service to the trend by expressing their love for Taiwan in public."

Lee Yung-chih, who was also the former spokesman of the Taiwan Independence Party, said that it is actually independence groups who promoted the use of of `Taiwan' over the last few decades, but said the issue failed to become a priority in political or social circles, even after President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) took power in May 2000.

"When the TSU, organized by former President Lee in 2001, successfully won 13 seats in the 2001 legislative election, the issue finally drew strong political support and received widespread attention from the general public," he said.

"President Chen talked about the TSU as if it was the politically marginalized New Party, but obviously the TSU, with the movement to rectify the name of Taiwan, has proved that the issues it champions are indeed those that the majority of people care about."

TSU Legislator Lo Chih-ming (羅志明), who played a leading role in yesterday's demonstration, said that localization has been a key factor in reigniting certain social and political debates that had slowed down before the TSU emerged on the political scene.

"In fact, some of the government's foreign policy is quietly undergoing the process of name rectification, such as replacing `Taipei' in the name of foreign representative offices with `Taiwan' and adding `Issued in Taiwan' to the covers of ROC passports. We just hope that the efforts from civil society will help the government take more actions," Lo said.

Shu Chin-chiang (蘇進強), a Senior Adviser for the National Security Council, said that the campaign to rectify the name of Taiwan is different from the Taiwan independence movement. Shu said the former is moderate, underlines the need to identity with one's country and emphasizes friendliness toward -- and respect for -- China.

"The campaign does not necessarily just involve the political question of changing the name of the country. The point is to tell the international community the thoughts of the people in Taiwan, ie, Taiwan and China are two separate entities and Taiwan does not accept `one country, two systems.' This campaign can echo the government's efforts and prevent the coverage of the international media from tilting toward China," said Shu.

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