The decision for Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) to meet with China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) on Friday at the Sizihwan Sunset Beach Resort was made by the council, despite several warnings from the Greater Kaohsiung Government about security concerns over the venue, council Deputy Minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) said yesterday.
The strong protests that greeted Zhang at the resort led to the cancellation of several events scheduled for the final day of his trip, and President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had tried to blame the municipal government for the disruptions.
Although protesters trailed Zhang throughout his four-day visit, the fiercest protests were in Greater Kaohsiung. Not only was there bloodshed during clashes between protesters and the police, some protesters were able to get close enough to splash white paint on Zhang’s motorcade and security personnel.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
As he left on Sunday evening for a state visit to Panama and El Salvador, Ma said that the Greater Kaohsiung Government had picked the resort, despite security concerns.
However, during a meeting hosted by the Democratic Progressive Party caucus at the Legislative Yuan to which officials from the council and the National Police Agency were invited to make a presentation on Zhang’s visit, Chang said the council made the decision.
“It was the Mainland Affairs Council that chose the beach resort as the meeting venue, and we immediately contacted the Greater Kaohsiung Police Department, asking it to evaluate whether the location had any security concerns,” Chang said. “We also asked the National Police Agency to make an assessment, and both the agency and the Kaohsiung police told us several times that there were no problems. We trusted their professional assessments.”
While Chang did not respond positively to questions from DPP Legislator Lee Kun-tse (李昆澤) on whether the municipality had warned the council about possible security concerns, the council’s planning department director, Hu Ai-ling (胡愛玲), said that the council did receive at least two warnings from Greater Kaohsiung Deputy Mayor Liu Shih-fang (劉世芳) and Greater Kaohsiung Research, Development and Evaluation Commission Chairman Syu Li-ming (許立明) that there could be security loopholes due to the venue’s landscape and its proximity to National Sun Yat-sen University.
Many students from the university took part in the Sunflower movement’s occupation of the Legislative Yuan’s main chamber in March during protests against the cross-strait service trade agreement.
Lawmakers also voiced concerns over the police’s handling of protesters and journalists.
Activists who had checked into a room at the Novotel at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Tuesday, were forcibly evicted from the room and prohibited from leaving the premises before Zhang arrived at the hotel on Wednesday for a meeting with Wang.
On Thursday, a reporter from the online news outlet NewTalk.tw, Lin Yu-yo (林雨祐), covering protesters trying to block Zhang’s motorcade from entering New Taipei City’s Wulai District (烏來) was threatened by police, who told him he risked arrest if he did not leave the scene immediately, even though he showed his press passes issued by the Legislative Yuan and the council for Zhang’s visit.
On Saturday, police asked customers at a restaurant next to a temple in Changhua County’s Lukang Township (鹿港) to leave ahead of a scheduled visit by Zhang to the temple, which was later canceled.
New Taipei City Police Department Deputy Commissioner Lin Tsung-huai (林聰槐) said that while Lin Yu-yo was not involved in any illegal conduct, “he was jumping around.”
Asked by DPP Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) whether “jumping around” was illegal, Lin said “No,” but added: “He was bothering our colleagues at work, so they asked him to leave.”
Lin Yu-yo, who happened to be at the meeting, denied he had been “jumping around bothering officers” and asked police to show any video clips they had that could back up their claims.
National Police Agency Deputy Director-General Tsai Chun-chang (蔡俊章) first denied that officers had asked the restaurant patrons to leave, but later said they had only done so because the owner of the restaurant had asked the police officers for help.
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
TWEET CONFIRMED: The US’ Morgan Ortagus backed up Taiwan, saying China only admitted that human-to-human transmission was possible as late as Jan. 20 Taiwan warned the WHO and China about possible human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus at the end of last year, but the global health body did not make it public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) made the remark at a news briefing in Taipei, when asked about statements made by US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Dec. 31— that’s the same day Taiwan first tried to warn WHO of human-human transmission. Chinese authorities meanwhile silenced doctors and refused to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences,” Ortagus wrote on
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with
ON THE LOOKOUT: A Lockheed EP-3 reconnaissance plane was yesterday seen flying southwest of Kaohsiung, according to Twitter account ‘Aircraft Spots’ A Twitter account that tracks military aircraft movements has indicated an increase in US military activity near Taiwan, coinciding with an increase in Chinese military activity in the area. Planes from the US Seventh Fleet have been sighted frequently above the South China Sea in the past several days, and a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane was seen flying close to Taiwanese airspace southwest of Kaohsiung yesterday, according to posts by the Twitter account Aircraft Spots. The EP-3 was seen circling above the same area, Aircraft Spots said, adding that other planes from the fleet were seen in the past few days