Wed, Oct 22, 2008 - Page 1 News List

ARATS man jostled, jeered at in Tainan

CRUTCH ATTACKPro-Taiwan activists took exception to Zhang Mingqing’s tour of a local temple and he ended up on the ground, while his vehicle was stomped on

By Ko Shu-ling, Jimmy Chuang And Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing loses his glasses and falls as he is jostled during a scuffle with pro-Taiwan protesters during a visit to the Confucius Temple in Tainan yesterday.

PHOTO: CNA

Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Vice Chairman Zhang Mingqing (張銘清) was jostled and jeered by pro-Taiwan politicians and activists yesterday morning during a private visit to the Confucius Temple in Tainan City, ending up on the ground before he was hustled into his car and his car attacked by protesters.

Zhang announced last night that he would leave for home this morning, two days ahead of schedule.

TV footage showed Tainan City Councilor Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) shouting “Taiwan wants independence” and “Taiwan is not part of China” during a shoving match with Zhang, who fell to the ground, losing his glasses. But it was not clear if Zhang tripped or was pushed down.

A protester wearing a green headband and black T-shirt with green letters and characters reading “Taiwan Team” and “Save Taiwan” then climbed onto the roof of the car Zhang was in and began jumping up and down. He then dropped to the hood of the car and began banging on it.

Two more protesters followed his assault while an older woman tried to smash the windshield with her crutch as another man looked on, clapping his hands.

The Presidential Office, Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) and Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) all expressed regret over the incident at the temple and condemned the harassment and violent behavior.

Zhang arrived in Taipei on Sunday at the head of a 21-member academic delegation to attend a forum in Tainan. After protests at the forum on Monday, Zhang’s scheduled public appearances yesterday and today were canceled. He was on a private tour of the temple when the brouhaha erupted.

He had been targeted earlier at another historical site in Tainan by protesters led by DPP City Councilor Lee Wen-cheng (李文正).

Zhang later told reporters: “Those who commit violence do not get what they want, but instead drop a rock on their own feet.”

“Such violent behavior not only infringes on human rights but also runs against the wish of the peoples on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Only uncivilized people do such a thing. A civilized society governed by the rule of law would never allow such violence to happen again.”

Zhang said the incident might scare off some potential Chinese tourists, but he would encourage Chinese to visit Taiwan, including ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), because they might be better protected.

“Then my sacrifice would be worth it,” he said.

When asked to comment on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) comment that there would not be a war in the Taiwan Strait in the next four years, Zhang said there will never be war in the Strait if there is no Taiwan independence.

Zhang filed assault charges with Tainan police over the incident.

Wang Ding-wu, who was summoned for questioning after the charges were filed, said that Zhang fell because he stumbled over a tree trunk.

Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) denounced the “violent behavior of a few individuals” but declined to comment on whether the incident would affect a planned trip to Taiwan by Chen.

“We should demonstrate the democratic bearing of the Taiwanese people and treat our guests with peace and sanity,” Wang Yu-chi said. “It is not our way to treat guests with violence, nor does it conform to the core values of the Taiwanese.”

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