More than 1,000 Taiwanese-Americans converged on Washington Friday to attend a mass rally to protest China's "Anti-Secession" law, in an effort to raise the visibility in the US capitol of the worldwide movement against the law by expatriate Taiwanese.
Taiwanese-Americans from throughout the country were preparing to hold a rally yesterday in front of the Capitol Building, followed by a protest in front of the Chinese embassy a few miles away.
Taiwanese-Americans are "passionately opposed to the law," Bob In-yu Yang, the chief spokesman of the 17 groups of Taiwanese-Americans sponsoring the rally, said at a press conference Friday.
He called the rally an "expression of solidarity among Taiwanese-Americans against the Anti-Secession Law."
Rather than using the official Chinese title for the law, the groups have termed their activities a "Rally Against Chinese Annexation."
Eleven busloads of people arrived in Washington aboard charter buses, including two from Chicago, one from Michigan, two from Ohio, one from Boston, four from New Jersey and one from Atlanta, said Susan Chang, the president of the Taiwanese Association of America.
In addition, others came from Los Angeles, Houston, Tennessee and Iowa, she said.
Some 300 to 400 Washington-area Taiwanese-Americans will also join the rally, she said.
Non-Taiwanese have not been invited to the rally, Yang told the Taipei Times. The organizers had considered inviting Tibetans and Uighurs he said, but decided they wanted this to be a solely Taiwanese-American activity.
US congressmen will also be noticeably absent. The rally coincides with the Easter weekend, in which Congress is on recess and many other members of the Washington establishment are out of town visiting families for the seasonal school break.
In addition to Washington, similar rallies were scheduled for Saturday in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle and Houston. Overseas, rallies were planned in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Australia, Japan and Canada, in addition to Taipei.
"We strongly urge the United States and the international community to resolutely oppose China's `Anti-Secession Law,'" said a statement of the 326 Taiwanese-American Action Committee, which was to be read at the rally. "We further ask the United States and its democratic allies help create an environment in which the people of Taiwan will be able to exercise their right to self-determination."
"The future of Taiwan must be determined by the people of Taiwan," the statement added. Wu Ming-chi, the president of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs, Taiwan's main congressional lobbying group in Washington, said that both the House and the Senate "strongly oppose the so-called Anti-Secession Law."
He cited letters the leadership of the international relations committees of both chambers sent to Beijing officials in February urging them not to enact the law, the near-unanimous recent House resolution condemning the law, and statements by more than 30 congressmen on the floor of both chambers opposing the law.
Asked about the pan-blue camp's reservations about Taiwan's million-person march on Saturday, Yang said that "the numbers speak for themselves as to how the Taiwan people feel."