Taipei, March 17 – Taiwan’s ruling party presidential candidate Frank Hsieh attended a candle-light vigil Monday for Tibetans killed during China’s military crackdown on unrest in the Himalayan region.
Hsieh, who heads the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), joined the hour-long event on Liberty Square in the capital Taipei, which drew about 200 people, including a small group of Tibetan monks.
His rival Ma Ying-jeou of the opposition Kuomintang, who favours improved ties with Beijing, sent a representative to the venue.
The group chanted slogans while holding candles and walking in a circle around more candles spelling out the words “Free Tibet.”
The Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama visited Taiwan in 1997, since then relations between Taipei and the Tibetan government-in-exile have become closer.
China, which rules Tibet, also claims sovereignty over Taiwan, which split from the mainland in 1949. Beijing passed a law in 2005 legalising the use of force if the self-governing island declares independence.
Hsieh warned on Sunday in a rally that Taiwan under Chinese rule could end up like Tibet, in an electoral dig at Ma aimed at bolstering his own support for Saturday’s election.
Ma insisted the two were completely different and said he would press ahead with plans to negotiate a peace agreement and forge closer economic ties with Beijing.