Taiwan President Urges Chinese Reform at Independence Day Ceremony

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 1:15 am (UTC-5)
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Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou is urging China to bravely march in the direction of freedom and democracy, on the 100th anniversary of the revolution that ended imperial rule in China.

Mr. Ma spoke at the beginning of an elaborate ceremony in Taipei, a day after similar ceremonies were staged in Beijing.

Mr. Ma said the anniversary of the 1911 revolution is treasured on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and that Sun Yat-sen – the founder of the Chinese republic – is best honored by respecting his democratic ideals.

Speaking ahead of a military parade and with F-16s flying in formation overhead, Mr. Ma also sent a warning to China.

He noted his island's recent purchases of advanced weapons, mainly from the United States, and said Taiwan has improved its ability to build its own weapons to protect against any Chinese attack.

Beijing has positioned hundreds of missiles facing Taipei across the Taiwan Strait and has often warned it would attack if Taiwan tried to proclaim independence from China.

Chinese President Hu Jintao stressed the need to oppose Taiwan independence, at the independence day ceremony in Beijing Sunday. But he also said that peaceful reunification best serves the interests of Chinese on both sides of the strait.

Sunday's celebration featured a surprise appearance by former Chinese president Jiang Zemin, who has been reported in poor health and had not been seen in public for months.

China's 1911 Xinhai revolution marked the overthrow of the Qing dynasty and abruptly ended 2,000 years of almost uninterrupted dynastic rule. The Republic of China, led by Sun Yat-sen, was established weeks later.

However, that government fled to Taiwan when Mao Zedong's communists triumphed in a civil war against Chiang Kai-shek's nationalists in 1949.