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Clashes welcome Chinese minister in Taiwan
Activists complain about hotel room incursion
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2014-06-25 06:59 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Protests and clashes welcomed China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun as he arrived for his first ever visit to Taiwan Wednesday.

Zhang arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport just before noon, with a meeting with his Taiwanese counterpart, Mainland Affairs Council Minister Wang Yu-chi, scheduled for the early afternoon.

More than a hundred protesters showed up outside the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport hotel before the meeting was to take place. They showed ‘red cards’ as in soccer to show Zhang he was not welcome and should leave immediately. The protest was led by students Lin Fei-fan and Chen Wei-ting, who gained prominence as leaders of the student occupation of the Legislative Yuan last March and April. Hong Kong, which has had to deal with anti-Chinese protests of its own, reportedly refused a visa for the student leaders.

Scuffles and clashes erupted several times between the protesters and about 100 police officers trying to keep them away from the site. As the meeting started inside, the protesters tried to run to the hotel entrance but were stopped. “The people raise the red card, refuse the Wang-Zhang meeting,” they shouted.

Earlier, the hotel had also been the scene for an incident which was condemned by the Taiwan Association for Human Rights. After members of protest organizations had been found to have booked a room at the hotel, police and hotel staff reportedly entered the room without authorization and demanded the guests check out immediately.

In a statement, the TAHR described the incident as trampling on human rights and as a return to the martial law era.

According to a police response given to questions by Democratic Progressive Party legislator Yu Mei-nu, the hotel wanted the activists to leave and sent staff to enter their room. It was only when they refused to check out that the hotel called in the police, according to the comments given to Yu. A prosecutor reportedly described the incident as a dispute between the hotel and its guests in which police should not interfere.

Hotel management said in a statement that the number of people staying in the room did not correspond with the number registered at the reception. The extra guests were seen moving around inside the hotel, and calls for an explanation remained unanswered, the hotel said. The activists later complained they had been treated as prisoners, with no water or food allowed into their room.

During the afternoon, staff reportedly offered them a choice between either leaving together but not through the hotel’s front door, or staying inside their room.

Before Zhang arrived at the airport, clashes also erupted between supporters of his visit and opponents, mostly Taiwan Independence groups and members of the Falun Gong, reports said. Police had to intervene to separate the two groups as violence erupted, reports said.

“Welcome China special envoy Zhang Zhijun to visit the nation of Taiwan,” one banner held up by Taiwan Independence groups read, while others emphasized the Taiwanese people’s rights to self-determination.

A spokeswoman for Zhang’s TAO infuriated Taiwanese public opinion recently by claiming the island’s future should be decided by “all Chinese people.” The statement provoked indignation as well as sarcastic remarks because citizens of the People’s Republic of China do not even hold the right to elect their own leaders.

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