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Los Angeles

Demonstration Decries Taiwan's Recent Election

About 3,000 in Chinatown protest the results of the country's presidential race.

March 28, 2004|David Pierson | Times Staff Writer

A corner of Chinatown was awash with red and blue Taiwanese flags Saturday as an estimated 3,000 Nationalist Party supporters staged a loud protest denouncing the results of their homeland's recent presidential elections.

The demonstration was timed to coincide with a similar rally in Taipei, which drew close to half a million people.

Taiwanese at home and abroad have been consumed by the March 20 election, which saw President Chen Shui-bian and his Democratic Progressive Party eke out a victory of 30,000 votes among 13 million cast.

Hours before the election, Chen survived an assassination attempt, which opposition candidate Lien Chan's Nationalist Party supporters suggest was staged to garner sympathy.

Los Angeles is home to the nation's largest and oldest overseas Taiwanese community, which monitors developments in the homeland through myriad Chinese-language newspapers and television channels. Thousands went back to Taiwan last week to cast votes.

"He cheated," said Diana Chen of Buena Park about President Chen.

Like most everyone else in attendance, the 47-year-old loan consultant believes that the president faked his shooting so he could call a national emergency and prevent thousands of military and police personnel from voting. President Chen has denied the accusation.

Chanting, "No justice" and "We want the truth" in Mandarin, the enraged protesters called for a recount and an investigation. Many who rallied at the crumbling parking lot next to the Gold Line station in Los Angeles' Chinatown held placards and sang patriotic songs.

Speakers addressing the crowd called for the United States to intervene.

Most were unaware that President Chen had agreed to meet with his two main political rivals: Chan and Chan's running mate, James Soong. Chen said he would accept proposals for a recount of all ballots.

Southland supporters of the president said that it was absurd to think Taiwan's leader was capable of faking an assassination attempt.

"They've already reached a conclusion without finding any evidence" of conspiracy, said K.C. Chen, Los Angeles Chapter president of the Formosan Assn. for Public Affairs, an international lobbying group for Taiwan that consists overwhelmingly of President Chen supporters.

Charles Feng, a 21-year-old senior at Stanford who attended the rally with his uncle, said the intense fervor on display was typical of Taiwanese Americans.

"Politics is very relevant, because China is always a threat," Feng said while holding an American flag. "The reason my uncle is so passionate is because he does business over there. If Taiwan is messed up, he goes under too."

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