Bald men run for Taiwan president

A hundred bald Taiwanese men have run a race to kick off President Chen Shui-bian's campaign to promote a controversial referendum tied closely to his attempt for re-election.

    President Chen not as bald as his running supporters

    Only 24 hours after the island held its largest ever protest against China, the Tuesday event signified a play on words - since the Chinese for "referendum" is similar to the phrase "bald head".
       
    The Referendum 100 campaign follows Saturday's massive demonstration in which an estimated two million Chen supporters formed a human chain spanning the length of Taiwan to protest against China's missile threat.
       
    Analysts say the peaceful rally was Chen's best chance of boosting voter support in his difficult battle with Nationalist candidate Lien Chan – with the election on 20 March. 
       
    Main policy

    Speaking in Taipei, Chen described his main policy as a "determination to protect Taiwan's territory, sovereign status, democracy and economic prosperity, and to protect peace in the Taiwan Strait.

    "On March 20, we must take part in the referendum to save Taiwan."

    Two million supporters of Chen 
    made a 500-kilometre human

    The race of the 100 bald men was led by Taipei County Magistrate Su Tseng-chang - a short race to launch the new campaign.
       
    But Chen also said the 1 in Referendum 100 stood for his candidate number, and the two zeros symbolised the two questions it asks.
       
    The ballot - to be held along with the poll - asks voters whether Taiwan should increase its anti-missile defences if China refuses to withdraw its missiles.

    The second question is whether the two sides should open talks on forming a framework for peaceful and stable ties.
       
    Beijing, which says Taiwan is a renegade province that must be reunited - by force if necessary, views the referendum as a dry run for a vote on independence.
       
    Opinion polls before the Saturday event had shown Chen and Lien running neck-and-neck.   

    SOURCE: Reuters


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