Crowd estimates: as we were walking and talking on the phone with people in the other line, there was much cynical commentary among us foreigners on how badly the international media would lowball the crowd size and how much credence it would give the always absurdly low police figures. Some estimates:
AFP: "up to 30,000"
AP: the police said 20-30,000, and reported (fairly) "tens of thousands."
Reuters: "Organizers said 100,000 people attended the march. Local police put the figure at 10,000." The report said "thousands" demonstrated. Reuters also said:
"Among the protesters were hardliners who want Taiwan to declare formal independence from China. Some waved banners advocating 'one side, one country.'"This construction is ridiculous on every level. Apparently, in the international media, if you march peacefully waving a banner and declare that you support an independent and democratic Taiwan, you're a "hardliner." But if you point missiles at Taiwan, declare that everyone on the island must submit or die, and threaten to plunge the region into war if you don't get your way, you're.....a statesman? Hey Reuters, the President of China is a mass murderer. I guess if only he would wave banners and chant, people would really think he was a hardliner.
Not to mention the grossly incorrect formulation that Taiwan is declaring independence "from China." We're not part of China, and no internationally recognized treaty makes us part of China. There's a reason people read blogs, and errors like this are it.
The CNA, by contrast, did an excellent job; the reporter who wrote this piece was actually there:
The Taipei Times also reported a police figure of 30,000. Good to know that the process ran peacefully, but with Chen Yunlin arriving later this morning, and local KMT councilman coyly asking the DPP not to get violent, I smell a set up.
In the days leading up to Sunday's protest rally, the DPP said it hoped to mobilize 100,000 people, and the party estimated after the event that the turnout had surpassed its goal. The Taichung City government, on the other hand, put the turnout at 31,000.
Fears that clashes would break out never materialized. Taichung City government spokesperson Tsou Mei-liang earlier said that no confrontations took place Sunday, and it was not a surprise since "the protest was legally applied for and all arrangements had been implemented beforehand." Prior to the main rally, the protesters marched for more than two hours in Taichung's streets, and made the most noise when they walked past the Windsor Hotel, where Chen will stay during his five-day stay, to express their displeasure over the Chinese negotiator's visit.
What I believe is the correct figure is given in the Taiwan News piece by longtime Taiwan journalist Dennis Engbarth, who was actually there:
Dennis and I were in different lines, I would say about 60-70,000 for the whole march as well. 30,000 is ridiculous; there were more people than that in my line alone. The DPP figure of 100,000 is also too high. The mysterious 10,000 number in the Reuters piece is simply the kind of nonsense that makes you shake your head. UPDATE: Found out that incredibly lowball figure was the first figure the police were giving out. That was later changed to 30,000.
Marchers in the first route, which was mobilized by the DPP, numbered over 40,000, according to former DPP secretary-general Lin Chia-lung, while the "Break the Black Box" route had over 30,000 participants.
DPP Spokesman Tsai Chi-chang stated that over 100,000 participated in the event, surpassing the party's target.
This march had a different feel than the rallies I was in last year, much less electric, more mellow. As a friend noted, fewer airhorns, thankfully. Perhaps it was just the cold weather. Turnout was probably also depressed by Taichung's lack of convenient public transportation.
Taiwan News quoted the DPP's Lin Chia-lung, the likely challenger for the upgraded Taichung mayoralty next year:
Former DPP secretary-general Lin Chia-lung told The Taiwan News that the fact that the march attained its target "will exert pressure on the Chiang-Chen talks."Young people? What young people? I don't know about the other line, but there were few in mine.
"Hu Jintao (PRC State Chairman) stated that the ECFA talks should be launched before the end of this year, but the size of this march in Taichung City, which is under KMT administration, and the strong showing of young people shows that many people in Taiwan identify its advocations."
"The march has sent a message to Hu that the CCP cannot simply strike a deal with Ma or the KMT and ignore the Taiwan people," said Lin, who added that "Ma now faces a combined pressure from the Taiwan electorate and the CCP."
ADDED: There were young people among the crowds lining the roads. I suspect if the DPP offered the right activities, consumption items, rituals, and gestures, the young might well turn out. It should also be noted, as a friend reminded me, that the turnout along the road is important too.
CORRECTED: maddog writes:
The DPP rallies offer nothing to attract the young, so they don't come. Kou Chou Ching (sp?) and Dog G performed at the rally. Did you miss it? I did miss it! Thanks man. That's good news.
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