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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Taiwan candidate lights 'Free Tibet' torch

March 20, 2008

Agence France-Presse
March 19, 2008

TAIPEI -- Taiwan's ruling party chief lit a torch for Tibet at a
presidential campaign rally late Wednesday as he sought to pick up
support three days ahead of the vote.

With China's crackdown on the Himalayan region overshadowing the
election campaign here, Frank Hsieh denounced Beijing's handling of the
unrest in Tibet and likened the situation to what might happen to Taiwan
under Chinese rule.

"Taiwan's future should be decided by its people, and we support Tibetan
people deciding their own future," he told the rally in a Taipei park of
about 2,000 people.

"We oppose China's crackdown on Tibet and oppose China's threat to
Taiwan," he added, as supporters waved "Free Tibet" placards.

The crisis in Tibet has focused a harsh spotlight on Taiwan's own
fraught relations with China, which claims sovereignty over the
self-ruled island.

Election frontrunner Ma Ying-jeou, who has vowed closer ties and a peace
treaty with China, has been forced onto the defensive against Hsieh's
charges that Taiwan could end up like Tibet.

"Today we can elect the president, but if we give up our sovereignty and
admit we are not a country, and accept the 'one-China' principle, our
future would be very miserable, just like Tibet's," Hsieh said.

Taiwan split from the mainland in 1949, and China has threatened to
invade if it formally declares independence.
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