The sixth round of high-level cross-strait talks began in Taipei yesterday with barricades and walls of police keeping back protests by pro-independence advocates who vowed to follow Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) “every step of the way” of his stay.
TV footage showed a group of protesters waiting for Chen in the terminal as his plane touched down at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. Protesters also gathered near the Flora Expo site as Chen’s motorcade headed toward the Grand Hotel, where the delegation is staying during its three-day trip.
Numerous checkpoints ringed by large metal barriers have been set up on roads leading to the hotel. Police squads were also spotted along the motorcade’s route from the airport to the hotel.
When the motorcade pulled into the hotel driveway, Chien Sheng-che (簡聖哲) from the Taiwan Republic Office led a four-man protest outside the hotel, although Chen presumably did not see it because he was still inside the vehicle.
Chanting “Taiwan and China are two countries on each side of the Taiwan Strait” and “Chinese dogs, get out,” Chien and his colleagues were quickly escorted by police to a nearby police station. They were later released without questioning.
“I wanted to let Chen Yunlin know that he isn’t welcome in Taiwan,” Chien said, adding that he had hiked up the back of the hotel grounds to avoid police checkpoints. “He needs to know that Taiwan is a country, just like China.”
Chien said the group originally planned to wave a custom-made flag — featuring China’s five-star red flag on the upper left side and the Republic of China’s (ROC) flag printed upside down on the lower right corner — but ditched the idea.
He said the flag would have symbolized the downfall of the ROC and President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration when dealing with China.
In his welcome address to Chen in the Grand’s lobby, Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said the two sides have expanded negotiation issues from purely economic to medical and health cooperation. Although the two sides would not be signing an agreement on investment protection today as planned, he said he hoped they would continue to work to close the deal as soon as possible.
Taipei and Beijing have built a solid foundation for future negotiations, he said. Both sides agreed to tackle issues that are easier and more urgent first, and to put economic issues before political ones.
“We have proved to the world that as long as we work together, we can overcome any difficulty,” he said. “We have also won support among the people by showing that negotiations can resolve differences, cooperation can replace confrontation and development can create a win-win scenario.”
While lower-level officials conducted a final round of talks on the medical and health cooperation pact to be signed today, Chen and his wife spent the afternoon at the National Palace Museum.
Their motorcade was led by five police cars, three police vans and included two minibuses and six luxury sedans. At least 200 police officers were deployed inside the museum itself for his visit.
One visitor to the museum, upset by the heavy security, got into a verbal and physical clash with the police that ended up with him and several officers being pushed down a staircase.