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Taiwan kicks off National Day celebrations (update)
Central News Agency
2012-10-10 03:26 PM
Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) Taiwan kicked off a series of National Day celebrations with a performance by a military honor guard and marching band in Taipei Wednesday, the 101st birthday of the Republic of China. More than 400 members of the Ministry of National Defense Honor Guard and the Joint Military Marching Band performed a 15-minute show in the plaza in front of the Presidential Office. Honor guard members demonstrated their rifle twirling skills and the band gave a special drumming performance, winning rounds of applause from the audience. The servicemen ended their part of the show by forming the figure 101 in honor of the country's birthday. A group of five helicopters with the ROC national flag and a "Happy Birthday" banner hanging from them later flew over the Presidential Office. On a cloudy day with sporadic drizzle, students from local junior and senior high schools also performed dances at the ceremony. Before the day's proceedings even began, a group of teenagers dressed like the fictional superheroes seen in the movie "The Avengers," such as Captain America and Hulk, drew the gathered crowd's attention. They wanted to urge Taiwan's government to act as boldly as the movie characters and hoped the country will flourish, the teenagers said. The budget for this year's National Day celebrations was NT$28.2 million (US$961,620), NT$3.57 million less than was spent on last year's centennial celebrations. Attendance was also lower than in 2011, according to people who were at both this year's and last year's events. In addition to President Ma Ying-jeou, other government officials and hundreds of members of the public, the ceremony was attended by Marshall Islands President Christopher J. Loeak, and foreign officials from Taiwan's diplomatic and non-diplomatic allies. Among them were about 20 senior foreign military officials, mostly from Central American diplomatic allies including Guatemala, Nicaragua and Panama, a Taiwanese military official told CNA. The group will visit some of Taiwan's military bases during the next few days to strengthen international military exchanges, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Congratulations," Manual Lopez, a major general from Guatemala's army, said to Taiwan on the special occasion. Lopez said this was his second visit to Taiwan after receiving training at Fu Hsing Kang College in Taipei 17 years ago. Lopez told CNA that during his trip so far, he has been particularly impressed by the convenience of Taipei's mass rapid transit system. David Chen, a 44-year-old Taiwanese expatriate living in Canada, told CNA at the ceremony that he has attended nearly 10 National Day celebration ceremonies. Asked about Ma's address, Chen said it seemed like the president has been under fire lately and spent much of his speech trying to encourage the Taiwanese. A local resident surnamed Wen, also in her 40s, said she hoped Taiwan will be able to improve its economy and cement its sovereignty over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands. (By Jeffrey Wu and Elaine Hou)
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