Muslim Times(Web Desk) – Thousands in Taiwan’s capital of Taipei have rallied in support of a referendum on declaring formal independence from Beijing.The Saturday event in the US-backed, self-ruled island took place amid rising efforts by China towards officially claiming the territory as part of its mainland and as Taiwan’s hawkish President Tsai Ing-wen struggles to appease Beijing and the island’s pro-independence parties.
The massive demonstration, organized by a newly-founded group dubbed Formosa Alliance, marked one of the largest rallies taking place in Taiwan so far this year and
The demonstrators converged on an area near the headquarters of President Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), where the group’s spokesman, Kenny Chung, described the large turnout as “very successful.”
Taiwan’s relations with China have grown tense since Tsai rose to power in 2016 amid Beijing’s suspicion that she intends to push for official independence from the mainland China, which considers the move as its redline.
China has heavily intensified its military and diplomatic efforts against Taiwan this year, carrying out numerous air and sea military drills around the island and persuading three of the few governments across the globe that still maintain ties with Taipei to reconsider their support.
Earlier this month, Beijing once again warned Washington against interfering in Taiwan-related issues, calling on the Trump administration to respect its policies concerning the island.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on October 6 dismissed allegations by US Vice President Mike Pence, who accused Beijing of threatening “the stability of the Taiwan Strait,” by putting pressure on the island’s allies to sever their ties with Taipei and embrace China.
She further called on Washington “to earnestly abide by the one-China principle…prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues and work with China in opposing and restraining ‘Taiwan independence’ forces.”
Beijing has already been annoyed by the Taipei’s approval for a referendum next month to decide whether to enter future Olympics events as “Taiwan” rather than “Chinese Taipei,” the name agreed to in a compromise deal struck in the late 1970s.
Taiwanese protesters, meanwhile, insisted that Taipei should resist against persisting pressure from China, advocating a referendum on independence to avoid being “swallowed up.” Some participants even carried placards reading: “No more bullying; no more annexation.”
This is while Tsai announced last week that she intends to maintain the status quo with Beijing. She further vowed, however, to enhance Taiwan’s national security.