About a million Taiwanese poured onto Taipei's streets to show their anger at China's "Anti-Secession" Law, as members of the foreign community marched along with the crowds yesterday to show their support, urging the international community to pay more attention to Taiwan.
Foreigners who work or study in Taiwan either alone or gathered together in a group, joined a rally in front of National Taiwan University (NTU) yesterday afternoon to voice their opposition to China's threat of using "non-peaceful means" against Taiwan.
Walking alone in the crowd with a placard in one hand, a miniature flag in another, and a T-shirt with the Chinese-language slogan "Helping Taiwan on behalf of the United States," Jake Stevenson, a 22-year-old American from Washington, said that the "Anti-Secession" Law was a childish move by the Chinese government.
"Taiwan has enjoyed de facto independence for years. However, China chose to ignore that fact and passed the law," Stevenson said.
"This rally provides an excellent chance for the international community to understand Taiwan's situation more. It is important for the world to know this place and hear what the Taiwanese have to say about their future," Stevenson told the Taipei Times.
Stevenson came to Taiwan about three years ago to study Mandarin. Now a sophomore at NTU's department of political science, he said that he has always viewed Taiwan as an independent country.
"It'd be a pity if people cannot unite to express their resentment of the law because of their different party affiliations," he added.
Another US citizen, Cindy Wachowski, has been in Taiwan for two-and-a-half years. She also said that Taiwan is an independent country and that the international community should respect and admit this fact.
"Beijing has never ruled or controlled Taiwan. I see Taiwan as a real country which enjoys democracy, elects its own president and issues its own passports. I think China has made a ridiculous political step in passing the law," said Wachowski, who is an English teacher at Kang Chiao Elementary School in Sindian.
Sitting on the roadside watching the crowds move along the street, Wachowski said that she heard about the passage of the "Anti-Secession" Law when she was visiting Malaysia, and was puzzled about China's decision to threaten Taiwan's independence with the law.
"I think this is a unilateral and bad decision for China. At the same time, I feel amazed to see how many people in Taiwan are willing to participate in this rally and voice their support for their country," she said.
Among the crowds gathering in front of NTU's side entrance at Xinsheng S Road was a small contingent of foreigners with placards reading "Votes, not Missiles" and "Tibet, Tiananmen, Taiwan?"
Organized through the Web site forumosa.com, an online community designed to provide foreigners in Taiwan with information about the country and a means to communicate with each other, the group said that they came to show their support for the rally.
"China has made the wrong decision in the passage of the law. The legislation drew the people in Taiwan together and they've decided to bring attention to the international community with this rally," said one member in the group, who asked not to be named.
"We [the group] join the rally to show our support, that Taiwan should enjoy independence and that we don't want Taiwan to become a communist country," he told the Taipei Times.