Under normal circumstances, these young Taiwanese professionals would be doing just what about any other people their age would do on a Saturday afternoon: rest, or go shopping. But for the three or four sitting at the table sipping cappuccinos and smoking cigarettes, shopping is the last thing on their mind.
It’s only a couple of days before the arrival of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yulin (陳雲林) and already their anxiety is palpable. Like many others this past week, they are planning on demonstrating his presence in Taiwan, as well as the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration’s opening to China.
What truly worries them, however, isn’t Chen’s presence here, or even Taipei’s closer relations with Beijing. Their primary concern lies at home, with what they see as a dangerous and rapid shift toward authoritarian rule under Ma.
“Look at the indictment of [Democratic Progressive Party Tainan City Councilor] Wang Ting-yu (王定宇). It only took them eight or nine days” to conduct the investigation, one said.
Added to this are the government’s restrictions on assembly and demonstrations outside the Presidential Office Building and the many instances where police have disrupted the activities of people who were not breaking the law, such as Wu Ting-ho (吳庭和), a World United Formosans for Independence member, who was manhandled by a group of police officers in front of the Presidential Office Building on Oct. 11.
Wu wasn’t doing anything wrong, he wasn’t breaking the law, one of the young professionals told the Taipei Times. They stopped him because of what was written on his T-shirt. Video footage shown to the Taipei Times also showed two elderly individuals being forced to leave the premises.
“We’re scared,” another said.
Because of the arbitrariness of police action and how unclear the rules about what constitutes a violation of the law have become, “we don’t know what to expect. We don’t know if we’ll be arrested.”
For many of them, such police action is new, as they were too young to remember when the nation was still under martial law.
“Look at the [anti Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁)] demonstrations by the ‘Red Shirts’ last year,” one said. “They were allowed to demonstrate for months, to camp at [Taipei Main Station] and the police didn’t bother them.”
Asked if Chen Yulin’s motorcade would try to avoid demonstrators by using the back streets, one of them said: “No. For such an important figure, using the back streets would be a loss of face. His car will use major roads.”
“That’s why there will be such a large police presence,” the person said. “There’s going to be 7,000 police officers deployed for Chen’s visit.”
“We’re pretty pessimistic,” another said. “Maybe some of us want to be arrested. It feels like it’s martial law all over again. Perhaps what the Ma government is doing by cracking down on dissent and freedom of speech is preparing the terrain” for a Taiwan that is part of China.
Taiwan might be China’s next target after it has “walled off” Hong Kong from the rest of the world with its new national security legislation, Academia Sinica Institute of Sociology fellow Wu Jieh-min (吳介民) said on Thursday. At a seminar organized by the Economic Democracy Union, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, the Hong Kong Outlanders and the Judicial Reform Foundation, Wu said that the legislation is simultaneously a fig leaf concealing Beijing’s autocratic rule in Hong Kong and a figurative “Berlin Wall,” denying democratic countries access to Hong Kong. Wu said it is evident that Taiwan would be China’s next target. The
SAFETY CONCERNS: A construction company working nearby admitted to negligence in the incident, and is to pay a fine and other expenses related to damages Residents of homes adjacent to an alleyway in New Taipei City’s Yonghe District (永和) on Saturday were forced to evacuate their homes after the road collapsed, the New Taipei City government said yesterday. An 80m by 4m area in an alleyway on Wenhua Road (文化路) collapsed at 10:39am near an apartment building construction site where work was being done on the project’s foundation. The incident also ruptured an underground gas pipe and tilted several buildings in the area. Residents would not be able to return to their homes until tomorrow or Wednesday, when repairs are expected to be finished, the city government said. Workers
CHALLENGER DEEP: Lin Ying-Tsong was invited by Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo to join him on a 10-hour long trip in the company’s submersible Taiwanese-American Lin Ying-Tsong (林穎聰) last month became the first person from Asia and the 12th in human history to dive into the deepest part on Earth, the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. Lin, 45, an expert in deep sea acoustics with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts, joined US adventurer and Caladan Oceanic founder Victor Vescovo, 54, on June 22 in a descent to the central pool of the Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the trench, which lies at a depth of more than 10,900m. The pair made the descent in a submersible named Limiting Factor, a US$37
ARMS RACE: Two DPP lawmakers said that China’s development model differed from Taiwan’s, as it aims to become a global hegemon, while Taiwan seeks to protect itself Taiwanese national defense experts are split on how Taiwan should respond to the ever-growing budget of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), with some advocating for Taiwan to increase defense spending, while others say that little can be done. The Legislative Yuan approved NT$358 billion (US$12.1 billion) for national defense spending across fiscal 2020, a 3.47 percent increase compared with last year, while China’s military budget this year is NT$5.4 trillion, more than 15 times that of Taiwan. Regardless of whether the government adopts a zero-based budgeting method for national defense spending — in which all expenses are justified and approved each