Mon, Oct 25, 2004 - Page 4 News List

`Go back to China,' anti-arms rallyers told

STAFF WRITER WITH AFP AND CNA

Pan-green supporters, in defense of the government's NT$ 610.8 billion arms deal with the US, scuffled with with police on Sunday when they clashed with their opponents from rallying in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

"Chinese communists go back [to China]. Don't you live in Taiwan and bully the Taiwanese," the pan-green supporters shouted at their opponents.

The pan-green supporters also burned China's national flag at the gathering point for the rally, slamming Beijing for targeting the island with some 600 ballistic missiles.

Hundreds gathered outside the Kaohsiung city cultural center where a rally initiated by the Anti-Arms Purchase Alliance against the arms purchase was scheduled to take place in the early afternoon.

The rally crowd sang "patriotic" songs, and staged short plays satirizing the Taiwanese government as a dog, eager to please its American master with the arms spending.

Some clashed with policemen who were trying to prevent conflict between the two groups. There were no reports of injuries.

The cabinet in June approved a special budget of NT$ 610.8 billion to purchase weaponry from US over a 15-year period starting in 2005.

The arms package, pending final approval in the legislature, includes eight diesel-powered submarines, a modified version of the Patriot anti-missile system and a fleet of P-3C anti-submarine aircraft.

The pan-blue camp is now opposed to the package, despite the fact that the arms deal was originally requested by the Chinese Nationalist Party when it was in power in the late 1990s.

Meanwhile John J. Tkacik, a Chinese affairs expert at the Heritage Foundation said in Los Angeles Saturday that Taiwan should build up its self-defense capability before amending its Constitution.

Delivering a speech to the Friends of Taiwan in Monterey Park, a suburban residential city of Los Angeles County, Tkacik agreed that the Republic of China Constitution was formulated in 1947 on the Chinese mainland and doesn't fit today's Taiwan.

However, any amendment to the Constitution would inevitably invoke Beijing's anger, even though President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has pledged that the country's official name, definition of its territory, and national flag would be left intact.

In order to stand up against Beijing's bullying, Tkacik pointed out, Taiwan should beef up its defense capability, which he said means that Taipei should not miss the opportunity to purchase the arms package being offered by Washington.

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