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Last Updated: Friday, 12 March, 2004, 11:14 GMT
Taiwan opposition pulls Hitler ad
The opposition advertisement
The opposition advertisement appeared in three newspapers
Taiwan's opposition has apologised for an election advertisement which compared President Chen Shui-bian to the German dictator, Adolf Hitler.

Hitler's picture appeared in a series of newspaper advertisements for the Kuomintang-led opposition.

It was withdrawn after protests from the island's small Jewish community.

Taiwan's presidential election takes place on 20 March, with President Chen facing strong opposition from the KMT candidate, Lien Chan.

"We express our most sincere apology to anyone in the Jewish community who felt offended by this advertisement," KMT spokesman Justin Chou said.

The advertisement, printed in the island's three largest Chinese-language dailies, accused the president of becoming "more and more like Hitler", and violating freedom of speech.

Taiwan's only rabbi, Dr Ephraim Einhorn, said he was "shocked and disturbed" that President Chen could be compared to a man who ordered the murders of six million Jews.

President Chen Shui-bian
President Chen has said he doesn't want to alter the status quo

"I am sick to my innermost being. It's a terrible thing to have done," he said.

Analysts predict a very close contest between Lien Chan and Chen Shui-bian in the election with the result possibly decided by a few hundred thousand votes.


In an interview with the Reuters news agency on Friday, President Chen attempted to reassure voters about his policies.

He said that if he won a second term, talks with Beijing would be his main mission.

He also said that he would not try and change the island's name, which is officially the "Republic of China" and therefore preserves the idea of it being part of the mainland.

China regards Taiwan as a breakaway province and has threatened force if formal independence is declared.

"We must maintain the status quo and we must avoid a unilateral change in the status quo, including the use of force by mainland China," Mr Chen told Reuters.

Lien Chan
The opposition led by Lien Chan is planning a series of rallies

But he also urged voters to back a referendum being held along-side the presidential vote which seeks a mandate to boost Taiwan's defences in the face of the perceived threat from the mainland.

"Taiwan's democracy will definitely be a lighthouse shining towards mainland China and because of this they are afraid of Taiwan democracy," he said.

As the election campaign enters its final stage both sides are preparing for a weekend of political rallies ahead of the vote on 20 March, which could see 16 million voters turning out for the polls.

The KMT-led opposition has said it hopes to attract one million people for simultaneous marches in 25 counties and cities across the island on Saturday.

The government is planning a huge demonstration of support in the southern city of Kaohsiung.

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