TAIPEI, March 23 -- World support for Taiwan's first direct presidential election was strong Saturday as voters went to the polls. Overseas Chinese students from both Taiwan and China held pro- democracy rallies and candlelight vigils in cities around the world that were broadcast on Taiwanese television.
'The Chinese communist regime does not represent all of China,' a Chinese student in Washington, D.C., told a Taiwanese cable television reporter. Mainland China had conducted several military exercises to intimidate Taiwan's electorate since Taiwan's President Lee Teng-hui visited the United States last June. China said Lee's trip was a trick to promote Taiwan independence. 'They told me that I could not vote because I did not have a valid national identification card, but I'm glad to be here anyway,' a Chinese woman from Los Angeles said in Taipei. The support was echoed among foreign dignitaries in Taiwan, especially those from Central American countries that recognize Taipei over Beijing. Ambassadors from five Central American countries reiterated support for Taiwan voiced in a joint communique signed by six Central American states. The presidents of Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rico, and the Premier of Belize 'consider it of great importance that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait re-establish a constructive dialogue' in order to reach a peaceful resolution of current tensions, the communique said. The presidents of Nicaragua and Costa Rico were scheduled to attend the inauguration of the first directly-elected president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in May. Taiwan's Central Election Commission was making results of the landmark election available over the Internet at the address HTTP://expo96.org.tw.