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Page last updated at 14:13 GMT, Saturday, 30 August 2008 15:13 UK

Huge rally against Taiwan leader

By Caroline Gluck
BBC News, Taipei

The rally was the first against President Ma since he took office

Thousands of opposition supporters in Taiwan have taken part in a protest in Taipei as President Ma Ying-jeou marked his first 100 days in office.

It was the first mass rally against Mr Ma since his inauguration, and also comes amid increased worries over his pro-China policies and the economy.

The protesters said he was moving too quickly to improve ties with Beijing.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory, although they have been governed separately since 1949.

Resignation call

This was the first large-scale protest against President Ma since he took office in May.

Opposition supporters protest on the streets in Taiwan.

His critics - mainly pro-independence groups and members of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party - took to the streets in the capital, chanting slogans, and rallied outside the presidential office, calling for him to step down.

They argue that Mr Ma has been too conciliatory towards China and that his policies have damaged the island's sovereignty.

The president was elected by a landslide in March, promising to work for friendlier ties with China and boost the island's economy.

Last month, the two sides launched regular direct flights for the first time in nearly six decades.

President Ma's administration has also relaxed many restrictions on doing business in China, and allowed more Chinese tourists to visit.

The president's office did not comment on the rally, but officials from the governing Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) said the public should not blame the current administration for the island's economic woes but the previous one, which held office for eight years.

They said the public should be protesting against Taiwan's former President, Chen Shui-bian, and his family, who are being investigated over fresh allegations of money laundering involving millions of dollars.


SEE ALSO
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Direct China-Taiwan flights begin
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Direct China-Taiwan travel agreed
13 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific
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29 May 08 |  Asia-Pacific
China-Taiwan meeting bridges gulf
13 Apr 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Ma Ying-jeou
22 Mar 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Taiwan
30 Jul 08 |  Country profiles


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