Sat, Dec 13, 2003 - Page 3 News List

Demonstrators criticize Bush for bowing to China

PROTESTS In a rally at the American Institute in Taiwan, activists accused the US of applying `double standards' in its support for democracy worldwide

By Chang Yun-ping  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH CNA

Representatives of pro-Taiwan independence groups, in masks representing US President George W. Bush and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, protest Washington's bowing to pressure from Beijing in front of the American Institute in Taiwan yesterday.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

Pro-independence activists yesterday staged protests near the Taipei-based American Institute in Taiwan, accusing US President George W. Bush of bowing to pressure from China and undermining democratic development in Taiwan.

The Alliance to Campaign for Rectifying the Name of Taiwan led a group of supporters to protest near the AIT, saying Bush's remarks were "inappropriate" and, when considered along with the US' stance towards the democratization of Iraq, revealed a double standard.

Shouting "No missiles, we want peace and a referendum," nearly 30 protesters created a small stir near the AIT. Police were called in to prevent the protesters from getting too close to the institute. The police said the protest was not legally registered.

The demonstrators were confined to protesting in front of the National Health Insurance Bureau building, next to the AIT.

Peter Wang (王獻極), executive director of the alliance, said yesterday that Bush's remarks were not only inappropriate but have undermined the notions of democracy and freedom as the founding ideals of the US.

"The purpose of President Chen Shui-bian's (陳水扁) referendum is to demand that China stop pointing its missiles at Taiwan, because we want peace across the Taiwan Strait. What's wrong with that? Bush's bowing to Chinese pressure and trying to deny the Taiwanese people this right of democratic practice is a disgrace to all the democratic countries in the world," Wang said.

"In Iraq's case, the US has demanded a push for a democratic system, but it uses a double standard in Taiwan's case, limiting democratic development here. Bush has compromised democracy by hosting the leader of a dictatorship," Wang said.

National Policy Advisor Huang Hua (黃華), who joined the protest yesterday, said that the US' opposition to changing the cross-strait status quo was not acceptable.

"Please define `status quo.' The status quo of every country is changing nowadays, no country stays the same." Huang said.

The protest yesterday ended with an AIT official coming out to accept a petition from Wang.

In related news, representatives of various foreign-based Taiwanese groups filed a strong protest yesterday against remarks about Taiwan made recently by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (溫家寶).

Speaking at a news confe-rence, representatives from Tai-wanese academic, women's and medical groups based overseas expressed fierce dissatisfaction with Wen's opposition to Taiwan's plan to hold a "defensive referendum" on March 20 next year, which Wen aired during a meeting Tuesday with Bush at the White House.

They accused Beijing's leaders of fueling Chinese nationalism by playing with the Taiwan issue in an attempt to consolidate their power base.

Stating that they firmly supported Chen's plan to hold the referendum on the same day as the next presidential election, they said the president had done the right thing by deciding to hold a referendum to secure Taiwan's status quo.

"The Taiwanese people are entitled to demonstrate their desire not to be threatened by Chinese missiles," they said, claiming that Taiwanese independence can eventually be achieved as long as the US maintains its stance and does not give way to pressure from Beijing.

Despite what is seen by some analysts as a rebuke from Bush, Chen has vowed to go ahead with the referendum as planned.

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