Taiwan’s ruling party declares ’Anti-Invasion Day’
TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan’s ruling party said on Wednesday it would stage a mass protest against rival China to mark the first anniversary of a Chinese law codifying the use of military force against the island if it moves toward formal independence. Leaders of the Democratic Progressive Party and its allies said they hoped the March 18 demonstration in Taipei would draw up to 100,000 people to protest China’s anti-secession law. Taiwan’s government on Wednesday declared March 14 - the anniversary of the law’s passage - an annual “Anti-Invasion Day.” However, it will not be a public holiday.
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Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but Beijing has maintained claims of sovereignty over the self-ruled island, threatening force if it moves toward formalizing its de facto independence. The opposition Nationalist Party plans to hold its own rally on March 12 to criticize President Chen Shui-bian for allegedly mishandling relations with the mainland.

A decision last week by Chen to terminate the government committee responsible for unification with China elicited a hostile reaction from Beijing, including condemnations from President Hu Jintao. The ruling party’s chairman, Yu Shyi-kun, said Taiwan could not remain silent as China pressed its claims over the island. “If we speak out, Taiwan will win respect from the whole world,” Yu said. After the passage of the anti-secession law last year, about a million people marched through Taipei in one of the largest demonstrations the island had ever seen.

The March 18 Democratic Progressive Party protest will also coincide with the 10th anniversary of China firing missiles at targets close to the island, just weeks ahead of the island’s first-ever direct presidential elections. One of China’s aims at the time was to warn voters against backing President Lee Teng-hui, because Beijing saw him as a secret independence supporter. Lee won the election with a large majority. Taiwan’s military said on Tuesday that China now has 784 missiles pointed at the island, and that the number is increasing by 75 to 100 a year.
Posted by: Steve 2006-03-08