Saturday, March 26, 2005

Taiwan march update

A Taiwanese supporter holds a democracy sign during a massive march in protest of Beijing's anti-secession law, Saturday, March 26, 2005, in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP Photo/Jerome Favre)
In one of the largest demonstrations in Taiwan's history, about a million people marched through the capital on Saturday to protest a new Chinese law that authorizes an attack on the island if it moves toward formal independence.

AP -- from ABC News.

Aerial photo of big march, Taipei

Reuters has:

Hundreds of thousands of people chanting "Oppose war, Love Taiwan" have joined President Chen Shui-bian to protest against China's anti-secession law that sanctions the use of force against the island.

Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party hopes the protest will draw international attention to the new law and put pressure on China to scrap it.

Organisers said one million joined the show of people power on Saturday against Beijing's military threat, but Taipei police estimated the crowd at just over 240,000. [Although Taiwan's United Daily News puts the police estimate at 275,000]

"I am here to protest against a barbaric China which looks down upon the Taiwanese people," said 70-year-old businessman Fan Wen-yi, adding he was not affiliated to any political party and had never participated in a protest before. "The anti-secession law, simply put, is a law that authorises war."

The protesters chanted slogans and waved green flags that read "democracy, peace, protect Taiwan" as they marched towards the presidential office from 10 locations around the capital, symbolising the 10 clauses of the anti-secession law.


Amusingly, Chen Shui-Bian was out on the streets, marching and chanting slogans -- and didn't make a speech. That's the kind of behaviour I look for in a head of state. He's in the middle of the next photo:

Taiwanese president Chen Shui-Bian marching and chanting.

Here he is again, as an inflatable cartoon character: 扁娃 ('Bian Wah'), Baby Bian.

Baby Bian, surrounded by group 9 of the march, the Tai Lian contingent.

By the way, the green on the flags, headbands etc. stands for the governing coalition, centred on the DPP, which was founded in 1986. I assume that green was also the colour of the pro-democracy movement that the DPP grew out of, but I haven't been able to confirm this.

The opposition Kuomintang (Nationalists), one-party rulers of Taiwan from the 1940s to 2000, use blue, from the old Republic of China flag.

Another amusing thing about this is that even when a march is supported by the government, the police estimate is still much lower than the organisers'.

Actually it's not really a surprise, though, because Taipei police are controlled by the local government and the current mayor, Ma Ying-Jeou (馬英九), is in the Kuomintang.

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