Thousands demonstrate for Taiwan independence

Taipei, 27 June 1998.

Thousands of Taiwan independence advocates took part in a demonstration Saturday, demanding that the government hold a referendum on Dec. 5 to allow voters to determine the future of the island. The event was organized by about 20 pro-independence groups such as the Taiwan Independence Party (TAIP) and Association of Taiwan Professors.

Organizers said they wanted to express concern over the possible effects on Taiwan of the summit meeting between US President Bill Clinton and mainland Chinese President Jiang Zemin, and highlight the right of Taiwan citizens to self-determination.

Demonstrators gathered in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall at 3:30 p.m., each wearing orange bands on their heads. They also carried banners reading: "One Taiwan, One China" or "Protecting Taiwan, Founding A New Country".

Lee Chen-yuan, TAIP honorary chairman and leader of the demonstration, said Clinton was doing quite well in the summit. He pointed out that in the news conference following the meeting between the two leaders, Clinton did not say Taiwan is a part of mainland China. Lee said that the so-called "Taiwan issue" cannot be tackled by only the US and the mainland. Through self-determination by Taiwan people and peaceful pressure from the international community can the dispute between the mainland and Taiwan be peacefully solved, he said.

Professor Kao Cheng-yen at the National Taiwan University said the results of the Clinton-Jiang meeting showed that US policy toward China has not changed much. He said at a time when the Kuomintang still seeks unification, the people of Taiwan demand the right to decide if they want to establish a new country.

Legislator Yeh Chu-lan of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party said no matter what the results of the Clinton-Jiang meeting are, it would not affect the determination of the people of Taiwan to declare their own country. She expressed hope that the demonstration will let the international community know the wishes of the people of Taiwan.

Demonstrators marched to the American Institute in Taiwan, the American de facto embassy to Taiwan. A declaration was read in front of the institute, stressing that the future of Taiwan should be determined by its 21 million residents. The statement said although the group feels Clinton's proposal that "the Taiwan issue should be peacefully solved" is in line with the common interest of maintaining international peace and development, the island's sovereignty and the people's dignity should be respected. It urged the government to immediately institute a referendum law to allow people to vote on the independence issue on Dec. 5, a date that coincides with legislative elections.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Back to: News and Current Events