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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 March 2008, 15:13 GMT
Taiwanese rally ahead of election
By Caroline Gluck
BBC News, Taipei

Opposition KMT supporters in Taiwan - 16/3/08
The opposition KMT held rallies across Taiwan
Hundreds of thousands of people have taken part in rival political rallies across Taiwan.

It was the last chance for big weekend rallies before the island votes for a new president on 22 March.

The events - organised by the two main political parties - were also aimed at expressing public opposition to China's anti-secession law.

The law, passed in 2005, legalises the use of force against Taiwan if it formally declares independence.

China regards the island as part of its territory.

'Carnival'

Government officials have warned that the violent events in the past few days in Tibet have implications for Taiwan - showing Beijing would not give up the use of force against the island to resolve disputes.

Massive crowds turned out as political rallies and marches were staged across the island.

They took on a carnival-like atmosphere - with people wearing baseball caps and T-shirts with political slogans.

Super Sunday, as it has been called, marks a big push by both political parties to rally their supporters on the last weekend before the election.

In its carefully-choreographed event, the governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) asked people to gather at designated points and to walk anti-clockwise, highlighting the party's campaign slogan to "Reverse the Tide" - to turn back their political fortunes and that of their candidate, who has been trailing in opinion polls.

The party's presidential candidate, Frank Hsieh, attacked his rival's plan to establish a cross-strait common market with China, saying it could lead to job losses and other social problems.

He said he and his party stood for the protection of Taiwan's core values - which was important if the island was to avoid the fate of Tibet, which had seen peaceful protests violently put down by the Chinese military in recent days.

For its part, the opposition KMT, or Kuomintang, held its own rallies in every city and county.

Its presidential candidate, Ma Ying-jeou, speaking in southern Tainan, attacked the government's record over the past eight years, promising he would lead an economic revival.



SEE ALSO
Taiwan UN bid 'provocative' - US
21 Dec 07 |  Asia-Pacific
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24 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Taiwan shows off military might
10 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
UN rejects membership for Taiwan
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Timeline: China
11 Aug 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Taiwan
15 Sep 07 |  Country profiles

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