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Sit-In Continues at Taiwan President's Office


A round-the-clock sit-in is continuing at the presidential palace in Taipei, where protesters are demanding that Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian resign.

It is the fourth day of a sit-in outside President Chen Shui-bian's office in downtown Taipei.

The demonstrators, who numbered in the tens of thousands on Saturday and Sunday, have dwindled into the hundreds as the workweek begins. But organizers say the persistence of the protest is more significant than its size. It is led by a former head of the president's own Democratic Progressive Party, or D.P.P., Shih Ming-teh.

Mr. Shih says the demand for President Chen to resign is clear from the fact that even in heavy rain, so many protesters have showed up.

However, few political analysts expect the sit-in alone to force the unpopular leader from office. Mr. Chen, after all, has stood firm for months in the face of allegations of corruption and other scandals involving himself, his family members and his aides.

Political science Professor Chu-cheng Ming of National

Taiwan University says some want to take stronger action.

"There are some radical voices saying that perhaps a sitting demonstration will not lead to anything at all, so perhaps they should go for more violent and more high-profile action, which is a call for a general strike," he said.

Premier Su Tseng-chang on Monday warned against any strike, and said everyone should respect the rule of law.

Taiwan has formally been known as the Republic of China since 1949, when the Nationalist government fled to the island from the mainland as the Communists came to power. Under President Chen, the D.P.P. has advocated independence for the self-governed island, although he has stopped short of a formal declaration. China, which regards Taiwan as a renegade province, says any move towards independence would be cause for war.

Despite Beijing's dislike of Mr. Chen, Professor Ming says the communist leadership will have mixed views on the political turmoil in Taiwan.

"The communist regime would like to see Taiwan be caught in a situation like this, because then we'd be split internally," the professor said. "We will not be one voice against (the) mainland at all. But, on the other hand, this is something that they're afraid of - peoples' voice, peoples' power. They would hate to see that happen in their own society - it may be contagious."

Mr. Chen's son-in-law has been indicted on suspicion of insider trading and taking bribes. The president's wife is under investigation for allegedly accepting gift certificates from a Japanese-owned department store in exchange for lobbying efforts.

Prosecutors are also investigating the president himself, for the alleged misuse of public funds. Mr. Chen, whose second and final term runs through 2008, denies all wrongdoing.

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