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Thousands of Taiwan Opposition Activists Protest President's China-Provoking Policies


Thousands of opposition supporters rallied in Taiwan today to protest President Chen Shui-bian's independence-leaning policies which are increasingly provoking China. Protestors are concerned Mr. Chen is spending more time stirring up trouble with China than solving problems at home.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators chanted slogans in Taipei Sunday criticizing President Chen Shui-bian recent moves that have antagonized China.

In the last several months, Mr. Chen has sparked tensions with Beijing when he suspended a commission responsible for reunification with China. He also scrapped reunification guidelines and proposed amending the constitution to change the island's name from "Republic of China" to "Taiwan."

China sees these actions as moving dangerously close to Taiwan formally declaring independence - something Beijing has vowed to stop by force if necessary. While the democratic island has been self-ruled since 1949 - the communist mainland considers it a renegade province.

China's opposition Kuomintang organized Sunday's rally, calling on the Chen government to stop provoking China and focus on domestic issues.

Kuomintang chairman, Ma Ying-jeou, spoke to crowds of supporters.

Ma says there are many problems Taiwan needs to address - including corruption and the economy. He says if Taiwan gets its priorities wrong there will be a huge price to pay.

Ma, who is the mayor of Taipei and considered a presidential favorite in Taiwan's 2008 elections, will be in the United States this week.

He is to discuss a stalled U.S. weapons sale. Ma's Kuomintang has blocked the multi-billion dollar arms purchase in parliament - saying it is too expensive for Taiwan's needs.

The demonstration comes a day after a much bigger rally in Taipei to support Mr. Chen's ruling Democratic Progressive Party and protest China's military threats against the island.

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