Thu, Oct 26, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Activists call for Retrocession Day national vacation

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Lin Jui-hsia, right, president of the ``Concern for Public Affairs Association'' and Huang Mao-chuan, who bears a striking resemblance to former dictator Chiang Kai-shek, yesterday lead a protest mocking Retrocession Day as a celebration of Chiang's ``robbery'' of Taiwan.

PHOTO: YU HSUEH-LAN, TAIPEI TIMES

A throng of pro-China demonstrators gathered outside the Ministry of the Interior yesterday to demand that the government designate Retrocession Day as a national holiday.

Retrocession Day celebrates the end of the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan on Oct. 25, 1945, as well as the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), and is observed by Chinese worldwide.

"We need to remind the government of the importance of Retrocession Day -- of the more than 30 million Chinese who died at the hands of the Japanese military in China, and of the many who suffered under Japanese colonial rule here in Taiwan," said Tang Shu (唐曙), a demonstration organizer.

Retrocession Day used to be a national holiday, but has not been observed since 2001 as the government has instead pushed for two-day weekends.

Luo Su-chuan (羅素娟), a ministry representative, emerged from the ministry offices to accept a letter from the activists calling on the government to make Retrocession Day an official holiday.

Maggie Cheng (鄭曉芬), another organizer, told the Taipei Times that her group consisted of mostly Mainlanders who advocated unifying with China.

"But we're not associated with the current anti-President Chen Shui-bian [陳水扁] campaign," Cheng added, despite the fact that numerous protesters wore "Depose Chen" baseball caps.

Shu, meanwhile, denounced Chen for not enshrining a holiday that was important to ethnic Chinese, adding that the US was pitting the Taiwanese and Chinese against each other to maintain its own hegemonic interests and a lucrative trade in weapons to Taiwan.

"The Americans don't like symbols of cross-strait unification such as Retrocession Day because they need to promote cross-strait enmity in order to sell their weapons," Tang said.

Tang added that although China has deployed more than 800 ballistic missiles on the east coast, "very few of the missiles actually target Taiwan."

Although the US was frustrated with a long-stalled arms package in the Legislative Yuan, US arms dealers were scrambling to sell other weapons to the country, Tang said.

Meanwhile, on a related issue, the Taiwan Society last night held an indoor rally in Kaohsiung to expand the "local culture movement," an event that the organizer hoped would counter the "misconceptions" about local culture and national identity created by the Chinese Nationalist Party's (KMT) "colonial culture" in the post-World War II period.

Yang Wen-chia (楊文嘉), the society's secretary-general, said the public has been influenced by the KMT's view of Oct. 25 as "Taiwan Retrocession Day," but the nation's true restoration has yet to come.

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