Thousands march in Taipei in solidarity with Hong Kong protesters

Tens of thousands rally with political groups, students, Hongkongers in Taipei

Anti-China protesters wave "Nazi" China flag.

Anti-China protesters wave "Nazi" China flag. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Tens of thousands of Taiwanese took to the streets in Taipei on Sunday (Sept. 28) to march in solidarity with Hong Kong, where protesters have entered the 17th week of protests against the encroachment on their freedoms by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Beijing-backed government of the semi-autonomous region.

The protest, called the "929 Taiwan Hong Kong Grand Parade - Support Hong Kong, Fight Against Totalitarianism," was organized by some 20 civic organizations and student activist groups and, despite sporadic rain, saw the participation of up to 100,000 people, according to organizers. Taiwanese of every age and background gathered on Jinan Road near the Legislative Yuan on Sunday afternoon, their numbers augmented by a number of Hong Kong expats living in the city.

Marchers setting out from Legislative Yuan Sunday afternoon.

The event began with a rally, where speakers stirred the crowd, drawing chants such as "Five demands, not one less!" in Mandarin and "Stand with Hong Kong! Fight for Freedom!" in English. Cantonese rallying cries from Hong Kong expats and students could also be heard, along with "Glory to Hong Kong," a hymn which has become an anthem for the pro-democracy movement.

Of the Hong Kong protesters' five central demands, only one has been met: the withdrawal of a bill that would have enabled extraditions to China. Those remaining would require the government to stop referring to the protests as "riots," release those arrested for protesting and extend a general amnesty to those facing charges, allow an independent inquiry into allegations of police abuses, and implement true universal suffrage in the city.

At approximately 4:00 p.m. the marchers set out, winding their way west on a circular path through Wanhua District's popular Ximending neighborhood. The mass of people paused only briefly as Taipei police waved traffic through intersections, and many bystanders along the route called out "Hong Kong, jia you!" in support.

Demonstrators carrying flags of US, Taiwan, World Taiwanese Congress, and colonial Hong Kong.

In addition to citizen participants and their families and friends, student associations such as the National Students' Union and the Hong Kong Outlanders were out in full force. The march also saw the participation of political parties ranging from the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party to the staunchly pro-independence Free Taiwan Party.

Rainbow visible at rally as march begins.

By the time the participants reconvened at the Legislative Yuan, the intermittent rain had become a downpour, causing some to leave. At approximately 6:00 p.m., the remaining demonstrators kicked off the evening rally with laser lights, a symbol of defiance in Hong Kong since the arrest of a student by police simply for purchasing the devices, and Winnie the Pooh balloons, a jab at Chinese Chairman Xi Jinping, who banned Pooh references after his resemblance to the Disney character went viral in memes.

Demonstrators with iconic hardhats, black clothing worn by protesters in Hong Kong.

While rallies against China's totalitarian regime took place in Taiwan and elsewhere around the world, thousands clashed with police in nearby Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the CCP geared up for a parade, the largest display of military might in its history, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of its rise to power.

Demonstrators displaying portable "Lennon Wall" in Ximending.