Hundreds of people across the East Coast convened in Times Square to generate support for Taiwan's membership in the United Nations. The rally was purposefully staged leading into the week of the UN General Assembly.
The skies above were overcast, yet the atmosphere in Times Square was a heated one.
On Saturday, hundreds of people across the East Coast convened at The Crossroads of the World to rally for Taiwan's membership in the United Nations. Waving banners, flags and signs, advocates made impassioned pleas for their cause.
"If Taiwan is not part of the global society, we cannot voice our needs," said Mei Chen, a member of the Taiwanese Association of Connecticut. "We cannot contribute our talent. There are many talented people in Taiwan."
The rally was purposefully scheduled to take place a few days before world leaders and representatives would gather in New York for the UN General Assembly. Through the demonstration, rally-goers sought to bring "UN for Taiwan" back into the spotlight.
Taiwan has failed at 16 consecutive UN membership bids so far. Though rally participants addressed Taiwan as a sovereign state, the self-ruled, democratic island has not received universal recognition as a separate country due to objections by China, which considers Taiwan a part of Chinese territory. Statehood is a requirement to join the UN.
"In a way, it's a sad story," said Hong-Tien Lai, a practicing dentist in Midtown.
Lai came to the United States in 1967 to study at SUNY Buffalo. He has been involved with the movement for 18 years.
"As a student in Taiwan, you don't really know [...] what's the real meaning of democracy and freedom. But coming to this country, we came to realize what we missed and lost in Taiwan," he said.
Supporters drew upon American values and cultural icons to make their cause more relatable to passersby. Richard Gong was dressed as "The Big Apple."
"I wanted to connect with the people in New York, and get them to support Taiwan more," he said.
Jean Wu of Washington, D.C., was costumed as the Statue of Liberty.
"It's liberty, it stands for freedom," she said, "and Taiwan needs freedom from China."
George Chaung, a New Jersey resident, said he felt proud to be a part of the movement.
"To be able to fight here for the freedom of my country overseas feels American," he said.
For others, the issue at hand was the violation of human rights.
"If the rights of the 23 million Taiwanese become diminished, then the rights of all of us become diminished," explained Howard Fass, of Boston, Mass. "It's all interconnected."