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Last Updated: Monday, 17 March 2008, 16:23 GMT
Pro-Tibet demonstration in Taiwan
By Caroline Gluck
BBC News, Taipei

Pro-Tibet demonstration in Taiwan, 17 March 2008
Hundreds assembled in Liberty Square in Taipei
Tibetan exiles in Taiwan have staged a show of support for Tibet.

Several hundred people, including governing Democratic Progressive Party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh, gathered in central Taipei.

He has warned that the recent violence involving Chinese security forces and Tibetan protestors could have implications for Taiwan.

The candlelit vigil followed several days of clashes in Tibet and elsewhere in China. Dozens are feared dead.

Tibetan peace prayers were chanted in Taipei as the crowd, holding candles, gathered in a circle.

In the middle were more candles, grouped to spell out the words: Free Tibet.

'Common feelings'

Tibetan monks, Taiwanese Buddhist monks and Christian religious leaders, together with several politicians, were among those who had gathered to show their support and concern for the people of Tibet.

Mei Li Chow, who heads the group Friends of Tibet in Taiwan, one of the organisers of the event, said: "We want the world to know Taiwan supports freedom for Tibet.

"And we are also threatened by Chinese communists. We have common feelings with Tibetans in Tibet."

Taiwan presidential candidate Frank Hsieh at a pro-Tibet protest in Taipei, 17 March 2008
Presidential candidate Frank Hsieh warned that Taiwan could be affected

Addressing the crowd, Khedroob Thondup - a nephew of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said the Chinese were wrong to blame outside forces for the violence.

"Beijing blames the Dalai Lama for the events that took place. I want to clarify to all of you that the Tibetan people are fed up with 49 years of suppression and repression. This is a people's movement inside Tibet."

The unrest in Tibet is also becoming an issue in Taiwan's presidential election.

Both candidates have condemned the violence and called for restraint.

But Frank Hsieh went further, warning Taiwan could be the next "target".

He has accused his rival, Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition Kuomintang, who has said he wants to negotiate a peace treaty with China and establish closer trade links, of selling out Taiwan's interests.





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