A rally originally described as marking the shelling of Kinmen Island by Chinese troops in 1958 appears to evolved into an bell-ringing ceremony celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Republic of China. President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in 2008 on a platform of dialog with Beijing. He has to tread carefully with the so-called Peace Day event or risks undoing warming cross-Strait relations. A peace bell made from melted down mortar shells will be rung at the ceremony.
China threatens to invade if Taipei declares formal independence. Ma placed Vice President Vincent Siew in charge of organizing the Aug 23 events, which include a rally at the Kuningtou Peace Memorial Square on the outlying Kinmen Island&mdashthe front line of hostilities between Taiwan and China during the Cold War. He has emphazed that the theme of the day will be peace, a concession to China, and an earlier announcement said a Nobel Peace Prize laureate will be invited to the ceremony. Many Taiwanese object to Ma's concession's to China, so he will need to tread a thin line. The island is nearly evenly split between the ruling nationalist unification ideology, and the Democratic Progressive Party opposition to unification with China.
Date written/update: 2011-08-23