Sun, Sep 07, 2003 - Page 2 News List

A walk in the sun for `Taiwan'

SERIOUS BUSINESS More than 100,000 people from all walks of life braved the heat in Taipei to voice their support for officially renaming the `Republic of China' to `Taiwan'

By Debby Wu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A crowd of 100,000 people walk past the South Gate in Taipei yesterday to campaign for rectifying the name of Taiwan.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG AND SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

On the square parents were busy tending to their kids and a man was taking his dogs on a leisurely walk. It was like a weekend outing in the park, but with 100,000 companions.

Despite the blazing sun, for more than two hours people kept pouring into the square in front of the Presidential Office to participate in the Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan.

Many people wore purple headbands and were dressed in T-shirts with the slogan "Rectifying Taiwan's Name -- Taiwan is the Name of Our Country." Mobile billboards with slogans like "Republic of Taiwan" and "ROC is dead" were seen everywhere and shouts of "Taiwanese" and "Taiwan as a nation" were heard all around.

"Foreigners know about Taiwan, but nothing about the Republic of China," said Chen Tsun-hsing (陳春興), a middle-aged man who lives in Austin, Texas. Chen said he came back from the US specifically to join in the march. He got off the plane the night before and immediately drove to his hometown, Changhua, to pick up his mother. He again left for Taipei at four in the morning. Chen still looked excited and full of spirit despite the little rest he had the night before.

"I had a few friends in business who often had problems when they went to countries that had little knowledge about Taiwan and customs officials fussed over their passports. It is really necessary to rectify Taiwan's name," Chen said.

Chen was not alone. There were more expatriates who returned home specifically to support the campaign. Many said that living abroad made them realize the necessity of calling Taiwan by its proper name.

Lin Po-yu (林柏佑), a 30-year-old working in Japan, said he arrived the day before and was going back to Japan today.

"My experiences abroad helped me discover the importance of rectifying Taiwan's name. For instance, when I took my passport to apply for credit cards, the bank clerks discriminated against me because they thought I was from China," he said.

Pan Shui-ching (潘水清), an instructor at a technical college who showed up at the march with his wife and children, had also had a few unpleasant experiences with the troublesome name.

"When I was studying abroad, my classmates from Tanzania and Malaysia would sneer at me saying that Taiwan was not a country," Pan said.

"Besides, when my foreign friends watched the opening of the Sydney Olympics on TV, they tried to look for "Taiwan." But they could not find it because we used the name "Chinese Taipei" and they did not know it was Taiwan."

The efforts to rectify the country's name also attracted foreign support.

A big group of Japanese joined in the march, waving and chanting "Cheers Taiwan!" in Chinese.

"Taiwan's independence is necessary for security in the region," said Shinya Goto, a Japanese student of philosophy at Soochow University.

"If Taiwan is forced to merge with China, China may next want to claim Okinawa from Japan, which is quite worrying. So Taiwan's independence is good for Japan, too," he said.

There were also a few Caucasian faces in the march.

"In reality Taiwan is already an independent country and people are basically marching for what already exists. What is lacking now is international recognition" said Andy, an American who has been living in Taiwan for more than four years. He said that he supported the cause and went to the march on his own initiative.

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