Sun, Jan 08, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Masked people confront HK lawmakers

INTIMIDATION:Protests and a verbal assault against Hong Kong lawmakers were aimed at telling them never to return to Taiwan, the vice chairman of a pro-unification group said

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Pro-unification protesters chant slogans outside the Songjiang 101 International Convention Center in Taipei during a political forum hosted by the New Power Party yesterday.

Photo: AFP / Sam YEH

Several people wearing masks confronted pro-localization Hong Kong lawmakers who arrived in Taipei in the wee hours of the morning yesterday, sparking allegations of an attempt by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to interfere with their meetings in Taiwan.

Hong Kong lawmakers Edward Yiu (姚松炎), Nathan Law (羅冠聰) and Eddie Chu (朱凱迪) arrived at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport after midnight and were confronted by more than 100 protesters associated with the pro-unification Patriot Association.

Several people wearing masks and black clothes rushed toward the lawmakers as they walked into the airport lobby, shouting at them to leave Taiwan, before a police escort held them back, allowing the lawmakers to make their way to a waiting car.

The incident raised suspicions of CCP involvement to hamper planned exchanges between the lawmakers and the New Power Party (NPP), which invited them to participate in two political forums over the weekend.

“That there would be an attempted assault on Hong Kong legislators when they arrived is quite extreme. I can understand why the CCP is worried about exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong, but they should go back and re-examine the cause. The actions of the CCP is the reason there has been so much understanding between Hong Kong and Taiwanese groups in recent years,” said Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), a prominent Sunflower movement activist, who said he drove the lawmakers to Taipei.

The Patriot Association is widely seen as sympathetic to the CCP and has a history of violent confrontation, most recently attacking Falun Gong practitioners outside the Taipei 101 building.

The China Unification Promotion Party (CUPP) has been tied to the Bamboo Union (竹聯幫) crime syndicate, and Lin yesterday accused the Four Seas Gang (四海幫) of also being involved.

More than 300 demonstrators from the CUPP and other groups yesterday protested outside the NPP forum, which was guarded by rows of police officers and barricades blocking the main entrance of the building in Taipei.

Protesters waved signs they said showed a fist smashing into a “Hong Kong-Taiwanese independence alliance.”

Police escorted the lawmakers into the building.

CUPP vice chairman Tseng Cheng-hsing (曾正星) said the protest was intended to “intimidate” the lawmakers and ensure “they do not come back again.”

“Similar protests have taken place in Hong Kong and it is obvious that the CCP has been trying to manipulate patriotic feelings and pin labels on us,” said Law, who denied he supported Hong Kong independence, but promised exchanges with Taiwan would continue.

“Last night was a bit extreme, but it reflected just how low the character of those who oppose exchanges are,” said Joshua Wong (黃之鋒), a Hong Kong activist who is secretary-general of Demosisto, Law’s political party.

Separately, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday condemned an attempted assault on Wong, saying that violence is not the way to voice opinions in a civilized society.

“I have asked the Taipei Police Department to protect our guests,” he said.

The mayor said the incident could have provided an explanation for why, after the benefits Beijing has given Taiwan, Taiwanese have always been more affiliated with the US than with China.

“Why do Taiwanese fear China so much? I think this is a question Beijing should think about,” he said.

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