Tens of thousands rally against Ma in Taiwan

Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party, led the crowd in shouting: "People are furious at Ma".

TAIPEI - Tens of thousands of slogan-chanting Taiwanese took to Taipei's streets Sunday to protest at the government's economic record in one of the biggest rallies organised by the main opposition in recent years.

The march, which stretched for miles, began after Su Tseng-chang, chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party, led the crowd in shouting: "People are furious at Ma".

Other slogans and banners also took aim at President Ma Ying-jeou from the China-friendly Kuomintang party, who was elected in 2008.

"Down with Ma Ying-jeou!" "Cabinet reshuffle!" the protesters chanted during the peaceful march.

The demonstrators were cordoned off by barbed wire and riot police after marching through the city centre and assembling in the square in front of the presidential office.

The opposition party claimed the turnout totalled 150,000. No police estimate was immediately available.

The trade-dependent economy contracted in the second quarter of 2012 for the first time in nearly three years, while its exports shrank for six months in a row until swinging back into positive territory in September.

The government has forecast growth of 1.13 per cent for the whole of last year.

The China-sceptical opposition party also objects to controversial plans for expanded investment in local media by Taiwanese billionaire Tsai Eng-meng, who has substantial business interests in China.

Next Media, controlled by Hong Kong's vocal China critic Jimmy Lai, in November signed agreements with various buyers including Tsai to sell the Taiwan editions of Apple Daily and Next magazine, as well as Taiwan Sharp Daily and Next TV.

Concerns have been raised that the deals could create a pro-China media monopoly.

Such issues are still sensitive in Taiwan more than six decades after it split from China following a civil war. Beijing views the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, through force if necessary.

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