Hundreds of thousands protest anti-secession law in Taiwan
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators filled the streets of Taipei, Taiwan on Saturday, as several political parties, 500 civic groups, and President Chen Shui-bian voiced their opposition to the "anti-secession" law passed by the People's Republic of China last week.
The Associated Press and the Sydney Morning Herald estimated turnout at close to one million. Police spokesman Tan Szu-huai initially provided an estimate of about 300,000, but AP is reporting a revised police estimate of one million. Reuters news agency reports that organisers had hoped to attract one million people to the march.
"What do we want from China? Peace!" DPP lawmaker Bikhim Hsiao chanted with the crowd.
Hsiao told CNN, "[This law] essentially gives China a blank check to use force against Taiwan, and they are the ones legislating, they are the ones interpreting the law, and executing and implementing the law."
President Chen participates
Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian joined the protesters with his family and a security escort at 3pm local time. Chen is not scheduled to make a major speech to the crowd once they assemble at Presidential Office in downtown Taipei City, although he will preside over a ceremony with songs for each of the four major ethnic groups before the rally ends.
Protestors chanted "Oppose war, Love Taiwan" amongst what has been termed a "democratic carnival" in downtown Taipei. The "carnival" consisted of activities on different themes relating to Taiwanese national sovereignty and cross-straits relations.
Protestors attended from all over Taiwan, many braving arduous ten-hour or longer bus rides to Taipei.
Vice President Annette Lu is expected to make an appearance at the Presidential Office.
Taiwanese television station ETTV on its Taiwan Domestic Newshour and others are providing live coverage as the march and rally progresses.
Reaction from China
Andrew Yang, secretary-general of the Council for Advanced Policy Studies in Taiwan, told Bloomberg, "China probably won't respond too strongly to the rally, focusing instead on how to make progress in terms of a peaceful, pragmatic approach."
At the time this story was filed, China's state-controlled Xinhua and People's Daily news agencies had no immediate comment about the march or the planned rally, but earlier today, Xinhua reported that on Friday, a Chinese expert "urged the Taiwan authorities to grasp the 'sincerity and goodwill' expressed in the Anti-Secession Law," stating that "Taiwan independence" secessionist forces had "malevolently distorted" the legislation and "sought to instigate hostility" between the two sides.
China's state-run news agencies also quoted professors from Chinese universities on Friday, who warned that the situation could become "further aggravated" by Saturday's planned event.
"China's Hard Line Stirs Throng in Taiwan." Keith Bradsher. New York Times. March 27, 2005. 
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