Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou, yielding to national pressure, had ordered the suspension of the construction of what could have been the country's fourth nuclear power plant.

A protest participated by more than 50,000 people who wanted the project scrapped spurred the decision of the Taiwanese president.

Protesters started the march from the Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office up to the front of the Taipei Train Station at Zhongxiao West Road. They later staged a sit-in.

Mr Ma came up with the decision during a three-hour meeting with 15 ruling Kuomintang (KMT) mayors and magistrates.

"Two resolutions were made during the meeting, including [a halt to] construction on the remaining part of the plant," Fan Chiang Tai-chio, KMT spokesman, said. Apart from suspending the construction of the No 2 generator of the nuclear plant, authorities have also been directed to first conduct safety inspections of the No 1 generator before sealing off the facility.

"In the future, any of its commercial operation will be decided by a referendum."

Taiwan has three working nuclear power plants. The first nuclear plant is scheduled to be decommissioned from 2018-19. The second one, between 2021 and 2023.

However, the economics ministry cautioned the country's three current nuclear power facilities would then have to serve longer if the fourth one does not start operating as planned. The three existing nuclear power plants supply about 20 per cent of the nation's electricity needs. The fourth plant, which began construction in 1999 and has already cost around $10 billion, is located in northern New Taipei City, according to Reuters.

Protesters cautioned the federal government against the construction of new nuclear power plants because the country, just like Japan, also experiences regular earthquakes.

The island's deadliest natural disaster in recent history occurred in September 1999 when a 7.6-magnitude quake hit the nation and killed around 2,400 people.