Agence France Presse

Taipei, March 26:

Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian and thousands of Taiwanese took to the streets today for peace and democracy to protest a new Chinese law threatening the island. Demonstrators marched down 10 major streets in the capital, symbolising the 10 clauses of China’s anti-secession law, before congregating for a carnival-like rally in the presidential square outside Chen’s office. Marchers sang songs and waved placards condemning the law, which gives China’s military the legal backing to invade should Taiwan move towards formal independence. Replicas of tanks and missiles were also displayed to ridicule Beijing’s military deployment against the island. Chen was accompanied in the march by his daughter, son-in-law, and a grandson. The group was flanked by some 500 police officers. The Taiwanese president and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had urged one million people to take to the streets to peacefully express their anger and rejection of the new Chinese law. Police put the crowd size at 240,000.

Premier Frank Hsieh and other high-ranking government officials were also among the protestors. Former president Lee Teng-hui led one of the 10 protest groups. “The hostile legislation puts Taiwanese children’s future in danger of war. I want our children to be safe, I want peace for Taiwan and I don’t want missiles,” said Shih Ting-ching beside her five-year-old daughter. At the rally, Chen shouted on the stage “Support Democracy, Love Peace, Protect Taiwan”. A huge ball in the shape of a sea urchin was deflated to symbolise destruction of Chinese missiles. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, about 100 people rallied in support of the Taiwanese protestors.

Chen advisor backs ‘one-China’ policy

TAIPEI: A senior advisor to Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian stunned and annoyed his traditional allies on Saturday by backing the “one China” policy. “I think both Taiwan and China belong to one China, and people on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits are all fellow countrymen,” said 77-year-old Shi Wen-long, founder of the powerful Chi Mei Group. “I feel Taiwan’s economy could hardly separate from the mainland,” he said. “I oppose Taiwan independence because promoting independence would lead Taiwan to war and bring disasters to the Taiwanese people.” — AFP