Taiwan independence campaigners call out China's 'bullying,' demand referendum at massive rally

Citizens came out in droves to call for an independence referendum

In 2008, Taiwan and China reached a "diplomatic truce", agreeing to stop using financial incentives to compete for recognition by each other's diplomatic partners, and from 2008 to 2016 China adhered to the pact and rejected attempts by countries to switch recognition from Taipei to Beijing, the report said.

In an October 10 National Day address, Tsai called on China not to be a "source of conflict" and pledged to boost Taiwan's defenses against Beijing's military threats.

The organizer Formosa Alliance claims there were more than 120,000 people attending the event, while the United Daily News reported about 30,000 people turned up.

The rally, one of the largest seen on Taiwan this year, was organised by a group called Formosa Alliance founded six months ago, and the protesters gathered near the headquarters of President Tsai Ing-wen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).

"Taiwanese people want to be their own master", he added. "We have our own sovereignty, and Taiwan is a country".

Families brought their young children to the event, but the majority of protesters were older residents, with some pro-independence church groups also joining the rally.

"I want to loudly say no to China", said 43-year-old demonstrator Ping Cheng-wen, who is self-employed.

Engineer Rex Yang, 35, described Taiwan as an "orphan in the worldwide community".

Mainland China and Taiwan are ruled by rival regimes since 1949, after a civil war between communists established in Beijing and the nationalists of the Kuomintang (KMT) refugees in Taipei.

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"Taiwanese people want Taiwan to become a normal country...that is why I stand out here today", he told AFP.

Since coming to power, Tsai has vowed to maintain the status quo in relations between Taipei and Beijing, a position that has won her Washington's support.

The DPP publicly prohibited its officials and candidates from attending Saturday's rally, instead holding its own protest against China's "annexation" of Taiwan in the southern city of Kaohsiung, its traditional heartland.

By his measured approach, Ms. Tsai has made enemies among the guerrillas of the PDP.

Further, he said, the DPP even lays down restrictions in the current referendum laws, prohibiting its citizens from voting on the change of the nation's name and territory.

Analysts agree Tsai would be unlikely to allow such an amendment which would be a red flag to Beijing.

Chinese authorities have already said Formosa Alliance should not go down what they called a "dangerous path".

"The DPP rally in Kaohsiung shows the party was anxious about losing the support of pro-independence groups and that it also opposes the mainland", said political commentator Lo Chih-chiang, who was an aide to Taiwan's former president Ma Ying-jeou.

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