The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold is one of two warships to have entered the Taiwan Strait
23 October, 2018, 15:51
Gathered in the narrow street, the protesters shouted slogans like "Taiwan is Taiwan" and "We are an independent country", waved flags and carried placards emblazoned with phrases such as, "Say no to China, say yes to Taiwan" and "No more bullying, no annexation".
"By conducting a referendum, we'll let those countries that value freedom and democracy hear our voices and support Taiwan", Wu Li-pei, one of the senior advisers to the president, said on the event stage.
The rally, one of the largest seen on Taiwan this year, was organised by a group called Formosa Alliance founded six months ago, and the protesters gathered near the headquarters of President Tsai Ing-wen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
In addition to safeguarding its own economic interests, such as gaining access to the region's abundant natural resources and consumer markets, China's efforts include attempts to reduce the US' influence, the report said. "The people of taiwan wants to be its own master".
Beijing attack on multiple fronts, to drive the island out of the worldwide arena, preventing it from participating in global conferences, snatching one by one its diplomatic allies, in putting pressure on worldwide companies to classify Taiwan as part of China on their internet sites.
At the same time, Tsai's measured approach has alienated some pro-independence DPP supporters.
In fact, the DPP held a separate rally in Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan that same day, which was themed "protecting Taiwan from China's annexation" without mentioning the referendum issue.
Further, he said, the DPP even lays down restrictions in the current referendum laws, prohibiting its citizens from voting on the change of the nation's name and territory.
Another demonstrator at the rally in Taipei, Kuo Jung-min, an 85-year-old Presbyterian church pastor and Hebrew language professor at Taiwan Theological College and Seminary, said pro-unification advocates should move to China if they think it is a better place to live.
Relations with Beijing have deteriorated since Tsai came into office in 2016, with China suspecting that she wants to push for formal independence, a red line for Beijing. But the rally did not call for an independence vote and in a statement ahead of the protest, the DPP emphasized that it did not want to "change the status quo of Taiwan's independent sovereignty".
According to the organizers, the protest drew more than 100,000 people.
"The DPP rally in Kaohsiung shows the party was anxious about losing the support of pro-independence groups and that it also opposes the mainland", said political commentator Lo Chih-chiang, who was an aide to Taiwan's former president Ma Ying-jeou.
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