Taiwanese for nuclear-free Asia

Protest U.S.-China nuclear deal

Taipei, 26 October 1997

Thousands of Taiwanese marched through the streets of Taipei on Sunday to voice their opposition to a planned nuclear station and a possible U.S.-China deal that would allow U.S. nuclear reactor sales to Beijing.

The protest coincides with the visit to the United States by China's President Jiang Zemin. According to news reports, Washington and Beijing are close to an agreement that would allow U.S. nuclear reactor sales to China.

``As the White House prepares to roll out the red carpet to welcome the Chinese leaders...to sell nuclear reactors and technology to China, we would like to call for the support of the international community to establish a nuclear-free Asia,'' the organizers said in a statement. ``We want to warn the two superpowers -- China and the United States -- that the Taiwan people's interests cannot be sacrificed and the Asian people's anti-nuclear determination cannot be challenged,'' the statement said.

They chanted anti-nuclear slogans in front of the American Institute in Taiwan -- Washington's unofficial representative office in the absence of formal diplomatic relations. with the Kuomintang authorities.

Wearing yellow headbands that read ``Reject the nuclear power plant to save Taiwan,'' the activists also protested at the Taiwan government's plan to build a controversial nuclear power station. Taiwan approved plans to build the US$4.1 billion, 2,700-megawatt nuclear power plant, Taiwan's fourth, in 1994 after six years of delays and protests following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union.

The government revived the project in 1992 and construction work has since resumed. State-run Taipower produces 21,900 megawatts of power annually, about 23.5 percent of which is generated by three nuclear power plants. Total ouput must rise to 36,000 megawatts by 2002 if power consumption is to keep pace with Taiwan's economic growth, officials have said.

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