Pro-China supporters do not want the island's name changed
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Taiwan over the weekend as the debate over the island's relationship with China heats up.
About 4,000 pro-China supporters staged a march through the capital, Taipei, on Sunday to show support for the island's official name, the Republic of China.
This comes a day after a much larger demonstration by about 50,000 independence activists to demand that the name be formally changed to Taiwan.
China regards the self-governing island as a breakaway province and complained bitterly last week when Taiwanese passports were issued for the first time bearing the word Taiwan.
Pro-independence groups say they can never hope to join the international community as a separate country unless the name is changed.
The supporters of reunification played patriotic songs and carried banners reading 'The Republic of China is our Mother', 'Long Live the Republic of China' as they marched through Taipei.
"By arguing about names, it seeks to spoil relations between Taiwan and mainland China," said a spokesman.
"There would be hope for Taiwan only through peaceful reunification with the mainland," he added.
A handful of right-wingers burnt an effigy of the former president Lee Teng-hui, who led the pro-independence march on Saturday.
"Lee Teng-hui is the scumbag of the Chinese people," said one angry demonstrator. "We hope he will die as soon as possible".
Mr Lee told Saturday's pro-independence rally: "Today's event is a self-awakening movement of the people.
"For a long period of time, we let the external forces determine how we should live.
We can't let history block democracy and the development of the country any more," said the 80-year-old.
With an election less than six months away, the current President Chen Shui-bian stayed away from the event.
Many want Taiwan recognised as an independent country
He has toned down his pro-independence stance in recent years, although he has refused to embrace Beijing's one-China principle that states Taiwan is a part of China.
Correspondents say they expect the independence issue to be central to next year's election campaign.
The official name is a legacy from when the Nationalist Party which ruled mainland China fled to the island after losing a civil war to the communists in 1949.
China - officially called the People's Republic of China - has threatened to reclaim Taiwan by force if the island ever formally declares independence.
Taiwan is formally recognised by fewer than 30 countries and was replaced at the United Nations by China in 1971.