Protesters slam US, burn American flag
US Deputy Secretary of State warns Taiwan against steps to regain UN membership. Members of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party trample US flags in protest.

Kaohsiung (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Dozens of protesters demonstrated in front of the de facto US mission in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, yesterday after US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte criticised Taiwanese attempts to re-join the United Nations.

Before police could intervene, demonstrators trampled on the Stars and Stripes, burnt it and unfurled protest banners, including one that read: “Oppose US bullying of Taiwan.”

The incident was provoked when a senior White House official, Dennis Wilder, said last week that Taiwan was not a state and so could not become a member of the United Nations.

He was followed a few days later by the second in command in the State department, John Negroponte, who criticised Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian for trying to regain a United Nations seat.

Mr Negroponte warned that Washington opposed Taiwan's UN referendum and saw it as a step towards a declaration of Taiwanese independence and a violation of the status quo.