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Friday, March 25, 2005

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan to rally against China law

BBC NEWS | Asia-Pacific | Taiwan to rally against China law

Taiwan to rally against China law
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Taipei

Senior politicians in Taiwan have urged their people to join a protest against China's anti-secession law passed earlier this month.

The law allows China, which sees Taiwan as a breakaway province, to use what it calls non-peaceful means against any move by Taiwan towards independence.

Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the protest on Saturday.

The island's government has been heartened by broad international criticism of China's new legislation.

Joseph Wu, who heads Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, the body responsible for the island's dealings with China, says it is an attempt to remind the rest of the world that Taiwan feels it is under threat.

Ruled by separate governments since end of Chinese civil war in 1949
China considers the island part of its territory
China has offered a "one country, two systems" solution, like Hong Kong
Most people in Taiwan support status quo

"We also want to show to the Chinese side that we are angry over the Chinese action and we want to let the Chinese side know that the law has dealt a severe blow to the prospect of peaceful negotiations in between Taiwan and China," Mr Wu said.

Senior government officials in Taiwan reject criticism that the protest might inflame tensions with China.

They argue that relations have already been damaged by the new law and that what is needed now is an olive branch from Beijing.

Some analysts say the march is a clever move by the Taiwanese government to focus the efforts of its more radical pro-independence supporters on street protests rather than on drawing up new anti-China legislation which might, in the long term, cause more damage to cross-straits relations.

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