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Anti-Chen Campaign Could Trigger Strikes in Taiwan
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Taiwan's ongoing campaign to oust leader Chen Shui-bian could involve strikes, as calls increase for action to pressure the embattled leader into resigning.


Campaign leader Shih Ming-teh hinted yesterday that strikes are possible in October if Chen fails to respond to the drive, according to Taiwan media reports.


Political concerns over potential strikes caused Taiwan share prices to close 0.99 percent lower yesterday, as the weighted index shed 66.00 points to 6,598.87.


Dealers expressed their concern that labor strikes would directly damage the economy by hitting output and consumption.


One of the campaign organizers, Mike Jen, said yesterday that there are also plans to create chaos on the roads in and out of the island's busiest airport.


"Some 1,000 tourist buses, 2,000 taxis and 3,000 cars are expected to circle Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and occupy nearby highways to paralyze its operations," said Jen, head of the Alliance of Labor Unions.


"We want the international community to hear the anti-Chen voices in Taiwan and take the matter seriously to increase pressure on him to step down."


He vowed to stage the protest, which will include a sit-in at the airport lobby, no later than October 10.


Amid fears of an escalating confrontation, anti-Chen protesters are preparing for a major march tonight while a pro-Chen group plans a huge gathering on Saturday.


In what is called the plan to "besiege the city," Shih will lead protesters carrying flashlights on a march around Chen's office and nearby residence.


Organizers expect a turnout of half a million and authorities said yesterday up to 3,000 police will be deployed despite promises that the demonstrations will be peaceful.


Local newspapers said that, if necessary, Chen and his family would be taken to the island's top military command center for safety reasons.


After the march, the demonstrators will converge on a square outside Taipei Railway Station for four days before they move back to the "presidential" square.


The anti-Chen campaign entered its sixth day yesterday as thousands of protesters maintained their vigil outside Chen's office building.


They chanted slogans while giving their trademark "thumbs down" sign and demanded Chen resign over a series of corruption scandals.


Shih, former chairman of Chen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has vowed to continue his efforts until Chen resigns.


In a counter move, the DPP and Taiwan Society, a pro-independence group, are set to stage a mass rally on Saturday outside Chen's office.


The DPP has called on its members to show up en masse to show their support for Chen.


For more than six months, Chen has been battling allegations that members of his family and inner circle exploited their positions for illegal financial gains.


(China Daily September 15, 2006)

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