Eleven-day "Taiwan Run for UN" torch relay comes to an end

Monday, November 5, 2007

The UN"FAIR" at Taoyuan Airport.
Image: Seasurfer.

The torch line of the 11-day "Taiwan Run For UN" relay returned to Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei City yesterday. Taiwan’s president, Chen Shui-bian, launched the event as publicity and support for Taiwan's application to join the United Nations as a new member under the name of "Taiwan", alongside China. In a statement prior to the relay, Chen declared that "Taiwan and China are different countries across the Taiwan Strait."

The relay covered more than 1,200 km through 25 cities and counties since its start on October 24. The organizer of the event, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held night-time parties in the cities of Ilan, Hualien, Taitung, Pingtung, Kaohsiung, Tainan, Yunlin, Taichung, Miaoli, and Hsinchu as the relay progressed, and finally in Taipei City to welcome the torch relay team.

Shui-bian Chen, Annette Lu, Frank Hsieh (Taiwan's 2008 presidential candidate), and Cheng-chang Su wore "UN for Taiwan" T-Shirts to the Ketagalan Boulevard rally, lit a flame and led people in a formation of "VT" (abbreviation for Victory Taiwan) line.

The rally was met with protesters from the Red Shirts, which complain of corruption in the Chen government. In addition, the China Unification Promotion Party attempted several aggressive actions but ultimately carried out a peaceful protest. Protesters had demonstrated previously, on October 24 at the start of the relay.

Even though the premier of Taiwan, Frank Hsieh insisted on the use of products made in Taiwan during the celebration party in Taipei, mini torch lights held by supporters were "Made in China" and featured the "MIC" mark, according to Eastern Television in Taiwan. These were eventually removed by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The use of Made in China products was criticized by DPP legislator Kuo-ching Lin after the television reports.

The party ended with a queue of "VT" lines and a historical collection of two million signatures of support. The issue of Taiwan's application to the UN may become a variable in the upcoming 2008 Taiwan Presidential Election.