Thursday, November 06, 2008

Taiwan Says Hello To Chen Yunlin

PRC negotiator Chen Yunlin arrived in Taipei and inked a pact on direct shipping links and direct flights, as well as panda diplomacy (take two, Taiwan).

Wednesday protesters mobbed the hotel, as reported by Reuters, preventing Chen from leaving for hours. According to AFP he was able to escape back to that symbol of KMT power, the Grand Hotel, in the wee hours of the morning after police threw back over 2,000 protesters. AP said that protesters threw eggs and banged on cars at the Formosa Regent, though BBC said it was only cars with tinted windows. VOA reported that DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen was in the crowd, urging them to come to a rally the following day. Fox News reported on the protests but also discussed the issue of Chen's use of Ma's title "Regional Administrator President" at the meeting which supposedly was taking place today. The issue was avoided, as Max Hirsch at Kyodo News noted:
Hundreds, if not thousands, of protesters spilled out into streets surrounding the five-start hotel, with a handful of them managing to get inside the lobby.
Hundreds of police were mobilized in response, often clashing with demonstrators, who managed to block all exits until 2 a.m., when Chen was quietly escorted out a side door and into a waiting van that took him to his own hotel, Taipei's landmark Grand Hotel.

Surrounded by barbed-wire barricades, that hilltop hotel has stood its ground against a steady onslaught of protesters since Monday, when Chen arrived from Beijing leading a delegation of some 60 senior Chinese officials. Chen has been dogged by hecklers on virtually every leg of his tour.

Though a milestone in relations across the Taiwan Strait, Thursday's meeting was unusually brief. Chen stood silently except to introduce to Ma a scroll painting of a horse, a gift alluding to Ma's surname, which means ''horse'' in Chinese. Ma gave Chen a Chinese vase and the two shook hands amid salvos of camera flashes.
KMT legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng even asked Chen to have China dismantle the 1400 missiles that are now pointed at Taiwan. Outside on Thursday DPP Chairman Tsai led a massive rally against the government and the China envoy:

A sea of protesters with yellow ribbons are now on the streets, and police officers are using video cameras to help track down any possible offenders. According to the Taipei police department, "heavy-handed" police force of 3,000 has been dispatched and the controlled area is seven to eight times larger than the actual protest area.

Razor wires have been spreaded out in place to deter pro-Taiwan independence protesters from getting close to Chen and crossing the line for violence. Some people slammed the government for overreacting. In the strange political atmosphere, some people could not help but to question: Has the martial law era, which was lifted in 1987, come back to Taiwan again?

More ominous than the trade agreements, which contained items long advocated by the DPP, were the numerous reportsof police taking action to silence protests and to harass, intimidate, and disperse peaceful protesters. The Taiwan Association for Human Rights has put together an online petition and lists some of the cases. Other people reported that police stopped people with video cameras, were videoing protesters, broke into shops playing music they didn't like, and so on. Police prevented people from waving the ROC flag, and from displaying the Tibetan flag as well. None of this was necessary; Chen Yunlin would not have been harmed by seeing any of it, and all the energy spent corralling the pro-independence side was totally misspent. Taiwan News reported on a coalition of civic groups under the umbrella of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights protesting about the apparent suppression of freedom of speech:

A coalition of human rights, judicial reform and social movement organizations criticized the Kuomintang government of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for "pulling Taiwan's human rights standards down to the level of the People's Republic of China," citing widespread suppression of the freedom of speech of pro-Taiwan protestors during the visit of Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin.

Taiwan Association for Human Rights Chairman Lin Chia-fan told reporters that over 60 civic reform groups and 100 activists had signed a common statement within 12 hours, including numerous legal and human rights organizations and "July 15 scholars" who had been sharply critical of the previous Democratic Progressive Party administration of ex-president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁).

"Chen Yunlin stated that he had heard the protests, but what we have heard and seen is how the Ma government has trampled human rights and how citizens holding peaceful demonstrations have been pushed and struck by police and how our national flag has been confiscated from the hands of citizens while the Chinese five-star flag has been allowed to freely fly," said Lin.

Lin said that the human rights and legal reform groups demanded that Ma "apologize to all our people for selling out the human rights and legal achievements of the Taiwan people in order to meet the demands of a dictatorship."

Taiwan Sovereignty Watch also made a list of police actions:

1. The policy confiscated and damaged personal belongings of flags and balloons held by people at protest venues.

2. In the evening of November 2, four Taichung City Councilors, Chen Shu-hua (陳淑華), Chiu Su-chen (邱素貞), Chi Li-yu (紀麗玉) and Lai Chia-wei (賴佳微), checked in the Grand Hotel where Chen Yulin would stay during his visit. The next morning, they displayed protest banners from the balcony of their room. Within one minute, special agents broke in the balcony and entered their room, without their consent, to remove banners and restrain their actions.

3. Three bloggers with national flags of Taiwan and Tibet in hand were forcefully taken away by the police when walking southbound along Chung Shan North Rd and passing by the Taiwan Cement Building, where Chen Yunlin visited Cecilia Koo Yen, widow of the former chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation. The arrest caused the dislocation of fingers of one of the bloggers, but police refused to send her for medical treatment until she provided personal information.

4. Chen Yu-ching (陳育青), a photographer who visited friends near the Grand Hotel, was arrested and sent to the police station for interrogation for shooting the video of the banned area with hand-held camera.

5. Hung Chien-yi (洪建益), a Taipei councilman, entered the Ambassador Hotel, where Chen Yunlin's dinner reception was held, in the afternoon. When leaving by himself in the evening, he was dragged away on the ground for tens of yards by several police officers at the front gate of the hotel. He did not shout derogatory slogans or carry any dangerous items but only wore a T-shirt with the mark of "No Conspiracy with China" on it.

6. On November 4th, while Chen Yunlin was at the dinner reception hosted by KMT leaders at the Ambassador Hotel, a nearby record store was playing some Taiwanese song out loud. The police thought the song would stir up the feelings of the protesters on the scene, so they, in uniform or plainclothes, led by Beitou Police District Chief Lee Han Ching, broke into that record store, asked the store owner to stop the music, and shut the door.

7. On November 3rd, the Association of Taiwan Journalist issued that Cheng Chieh-wen (鄭傑文), a photojournalist from the Central News Agency, was dragged by the security police for 10 meters while he was doing his job at the Grand Hotel, and that an inappropriate press coverage area plan had caused quarrels between the press and the officials. ATJ declared that press freedom was under severe attack in Taiwan. Meanwhile, the government imposed such strict control over press coverage for this event that several reporters from Hong Kong said they failed to get press passes and had limited rights for coverage.

UPDATE: David below observes:

Another incident that should be added to the list is the Freddy incident. Freddy Lim was accosted by police while simply walking down the street. I am sure there are some others that should be noted as well.
These totally unnecessary heavy-handed police state tactics have besmirched the island's reputation. They may also provide the new generation of Taiwanese a taste of what their grandparents went through -- and we all know what the result of that was -- while showing their elders how the Ma government wastes their taxpayer dollars, fiddling while the economy burns.

Another point: lots of us, including me, thought the DPP should have let the Olympic Torch in and then let people protest the heck out of it -- but then this sort of police state action may well have taken place on the DPP watch, since it would not have been able to exercise close control over the police all along the route of the Torch.

FORMULAIC RESULTS: RTT's article on the protests that walled in Chen Yunlin for hours may well have the strangest construction of The Formula ever. Enjoy it in all its glorious weirdness:

The relations between the two neighbors across the Taiwan Strait soured after the Chinese civil war of 1949, in which Mao Zedong's Communists emerged victorious. However, it has improved recently after the Kuomintang (KMT) party under President Ma Ying-jeou came to power in Taiwan ousting the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party government in the last elections.

In fact the article twice says "the Chinese Civil War of 1949." No, I kid you not, though I suspect that it is a translation issue. VOA has the merely historically inaccurate "split in 1949" formulation.


Anonymous said...

I'm pleased to say that my favorite news network, Aljazeera, reported in its headline news that there were "tens of thousands of protestors" and showed footage of the struggle between unarmed but zealous protestors and shielded police.

Anonymous said...

The gift exchange was terrible!! Ma gives Chen a piece of pottery and in return Chen gives an unframed picture of a black, green, and brown mutant horse. It looked like something finger painted by a 3 year old.

I hope Ma will enjoy looking at that scroll for many years to come.

Unknown said...

Just arrived from ZhongShan North Rd, where people got "strangely" and "kindly" pushed away by the always sweet police forces.

I went away from there at 10:30 so missed the big moment, but I can tell you, until the time I left, there was only "audible violence", with hundreds of people using horns to make noise...

Lots of foreigners out there too, and, the part I liked the most, lots of young people taking part of the manif, with yellow ribbons around them.

Good the Ma administration is letting the youth feel what is like to be under KMT rule....

Haitien said...

Michael, not sure if you heard about this but there's a sit in going on in front of the Executive Yuan right now organized by a group of students and professors, about 500 strong. They're protesting against abuse of the Parade and Assembly Law (集會遊行法) by police to suppress demonstrators earlier on. They've rejected interference from the political parties, including rejecting an offer by the DPP to use their permitted protest site in front of the LY.

Their demands include:
1) Formal apology from President Ma.
2) Formal apology from Premier Liu.
3) Resignation of the director of the National Security Bureau.
4) Resignation of the director of the National Police Agency.
5) Revision of the Parade and Assembly Law.

The police have declared the whole thing an illegal assembly, and have raised the warming placard at least twice... to which the protestors responded with their own placard. So far, the protestors are very disciplined and everything is peaceful.

There's a copy of the protesters' statement and a link to a live webcam here.

Dixteel said...

Look at what this officer said:

He sounds reasonable but is he?
Why do they snatch flags from protesters? How can they go into a store to shut down music without giving proper reason?

Yea, they are doing their jobs...doing their jobs for China.

Protecting visitor?? To the point of violating freedom of speech? If Chen Yunlin saw the flags he would go blind?! Protecting my ass.

That's right. Taiwanese are now divided, and one side is working for China. It's sad, but it's true.

Haitien said...

Regarding the Executive Yuan protest, here's the original site with the statement, which is politically neutral:

Anonymous said...

This is a mob demonstration, not a peaceful demonstration. DPP politicians even openly incited violence. Did ink, eggs, stones, bottles and feaces thrown at the police appeared out of nowhere? It has become a mob demonstration, when the mob tried to step out of the boundary and throw stones at the police on purposely to incite police action against them. I know, I know- you are going to blame that on KMT and Ma too. Taiwan would become a lawless country if Michael and DPP have their way. Who is going to take responsibility for the police hurt by the mob?

Richard said...

All this on Ma's watch with Ma continuing to keep his hands out of it. He's stated he hasn't told the police to do what they've been doing, but at the same time, does not tell the police to STOP what they've been doing. Ma continues to walk his arrogant talk, saying he has never done any wrong thus far in regards to Taiwan's sovereignty.

"“I have never yielded on the issues of Taiwan’s sovereignty and Taiwan-centered consciousness,” he said. “As the president of the ROC, I have never made any mistake concerning this.”"

He's turning out to be like Bush in that whatever he does is justified in his mind. Whatever he does is right, and whatever the opposition does, is wrong. Ma took a pot-shot at DPP chairwoman, blaming her for the violence in the streets. Is Ma too stupid to know that individuals will be individuals? You will always have those extremes that get stirred up in the emotion to become violent, but Tsai Ing-wen did her part in consistently telling any and all demonstrations to be peaceful.

Anonymous said...

Can I forward this article on my blog and facebook? Thank you very much.

TCL said...

From reading the major newspapers in the States, it seems that this is not a well-covered event. WaPo did an article on the hotel siege and one on the trade deal, but provided very little details aside from the standardized line about the 1949 KMT-CCP split.

How is the event covered in Taiwan? Sitting in Washington, it seems like the DDP and the protesters aren't delivering a clear and unified message. Or am I just too used to the Washington spin control?

Anonymous said...

Ma has really done it this time. Where do we collect the 10,000NT bet that he lost? His eagerness to please anyone who is Chinese has shone through as his one singular desire as Taiwan's President. He's really more suited to serve the Communist Party than Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

The violence and clashes between police and protesters will likely be blamed on the protesters. But the action that sparked the violence and outrage was the action taken by the police to try to silence people's freedoms of speech and expression.

Michael Turton said...

hsinjung, of course you may use it!

Michael Turton said...

Haitien, thanks for the news, I had heard about the hunger strike but just hadn't gotten around to reporting on it, but I will now.


Anonymous said...

This reminds me of an anecdote I heard a while back about a Chinese leader who visited Washington D.C. and complained to the White House staff about the protesters gathered along his motorcade route.

He became angry and in an accusitory way asked, "Why are you allowing them (the protesters) to be out on the street?" (where he could see them).

He was politely told by a White House aide that, "In the United States we have to allow them to come out on the street. It is their right."

This is where Ma's government has shown its true colors. The protests turned violent because the people who were out protesting were made to feel suffocated by their inability to peacefully protest on their own streets in their own country. The police were being used to silence dissent and suspend freedoms of speech.

When these fundamental rights are violated by the state, it is perfectly within the citizen's rights to fight for those rights. If there are rights worth fighting for... this is the time to fight.

..."It has become a mob demonstration, when the mob tried to step out of the boundary and throw stones at the police on purposely to incite police action against them. I know, I know- you are going to blame that on KMT and Ma too. Taiwan would become a lawless country if Michael and DPP have their way. Who is going to take responsibility for the police hurt by the mob?"...

The anon-jerkoff who wrote the above statement is echoing Ma Ying-jiu and James Soong following the Kao Hsiung Incident, when the KMT only reported on police injuries and "the crimes commited against the authorities". At that time every hang nail was sent to the hospital and reported to discredit the demonstrators. The KMT had plants inside the demonstration and sought to incite violence as a pretext for arrests.

It is a good thing there is still a group of Taiwanese who will not give up the gains they have made without a fight. This is fundamental for Taiwan's survival.

David said...

Another incident that should be added to the list is the Freddy incident. Freddy Lim was accosted by police while simply walking down the street. I am sure there are some others that should be noted as well.

Anonymous said...

He was politely told by a White House aide that, "In the United States we have to allow them to come out on the street. It is their right."///

sorrry dude but i am still furious about SanFran Olympic run...

Anonymous said...

Change a few proper nouns and it could be description of the Republican Convention protests in Minnesota earlier this year.