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Democracy activist seeking people power in Taiwan

Tsay Ting-kuei is a civil engineering professor and democracy activist.

He started a 24-hour sit-in protest outside Taiwan's legislature three years ago to try and make it easier for voters to propose referendums.

At the moment the process is very difficult, requiring 200,000 signatures and the approval of a government-appointed board, Mr Tsay says.

But if the rules are relaxed, it will be easier for the people to determine whether the island should be reunified with China - which still claims it as its breakaway province - or whether it should be formally independent.

Surveys have shown most people right now don't want either. They prefer to maintain the status quo to avoid tensions with China and to continue reaping the benefits of its giant neighbour's rapid economic growth.

But as Taiwan's government continues to build better relations with China, some people like Mr Tsay are worried this could hurt Taiwan's independence, self-rule and sovereignty.

He believes the best way to ensure Taiwan's people can decide the island's future is to push for further democratisation of the young nation.

It only held its first direct presidential election by popular vote in 1996.

To highlight his point, Mr Tsay has even gone on a hunger strike.

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