A heavy police presence and strong protests against Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) clouded the top Chinese negotiator’s first visit to Taiwan yesterday.
Police stationed themselves along the route between the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport and the Grand Hotel in Taipei, setting up a number of checkpoints. Vehicles heading to the airport were stopped by police who checked driver and passenger IDs and asked why they were heading to the airport. Several vehicles decorated with Republic of China (ROC) flags, anti-Chen or anti-China banners were not allowed to enter the airport.
The measures disrupted traffic in Taoyuan City, Dayuan Township (大園) and Bade Township (八德) during rush hour yesterday morning.
Aviation Police Office Chief Diao Chien-sheng (刁建生) told reporters that because of security concerns, people who could not prove they were taking flights or failed to prove they were picking up somebody from the airport were not allowed to enter.
Holding colorful flags, some 70 Tibetans boarded a coach in Taipei with plans to “welcome” Chen at the airport, but were stopped by police who detained those not carrying IDs.
When former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taoyuan County councilor Wu Pao-yu (吳寶玉) entered the arrival hall at 8:50am waving an ROC flag, police officers immediately asked Wu to put the flag in her bag.
“The national flag is our county’s flag. Please tell me why I can’t carry a national flag in my country. Give me a reason,” Wu said.
Police officers later removed her from the arrival hall.
Around 11am, former independent Taoyuan County councilor Huang Te-long (黃德隆), who was sitting in a chair in the arrival hall, was asked by police officers why he was there.
Huang said he was picking somebody up, but because he failed to come up with a flight number, police asked him to leave. He then shouted “Taiwan must become an independent country! Taiwan is not part of China!” before he was carried out of the arrival hall.
Some 2,000 police officers were dispatched to escort Chen and members of his delegation from the airport to the Grand Hotel.
Several people waving national flags on a bridge above the freeway in Linkou (林口), Taipei County, when Chen’s motorcade passed the area were robbed of their flags by police officers.
“I don’t know if it’s good luck or bad, but I happened to have two clients this morning — one who went to the airport, and one to the Grand Hotel,” said Sun Chun-chien (孫俊建), a taxi driver in Taipei. “The government has stooped extremely low. It was as if the martial law had been reimposed. When we were on [Freeway No. 2], my passenger was asked to produce his passport and booking receipt to prove that he was traveling today, and when I drove my other passenger to the hotel, he was asked to show the police his room key card.”
Barbed wire was installed around the hotel to ward off trespassers, Sun said.
“Many grandpas and grandmas go exercise on the hill where the Grand Hotel is, who’s this Chen Yunlin?” Sun asked. “Even the US president doesn’t get such treatment.”
He said that although taxicabs bearing the Taiwanese flag on their taxi lights on the roof usually line up in front of the Jiantan MRT station — in close proximity to the Grand Hotel — yesterday police asked them to leave.