Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) yesterday came his closest to protesters while visiting Miaoli.
Chen visited the Sanyi Wood Sculpture Museum, where Falun Gong practitioners and independence and unification activists shouted slogans.
Falun Gong practitioners and unification groups gathered downhill from the museum, while about 15 independence activists protested just outside the museum.
Chanting “Taiwan and China, one country on each side,” protesters wore headbands reading “Give me back my civil rights.” They were surrounded by 120 law enforcement officers.
Chen made a brief stop at a gift shop next to the museum after his visit. The independence group was about 10m away.
As Chen got into his car, two Falun Gong practitioners breached a security line and came within 2m of him.
Chen did not react.
Before the visit to the museum, Chen visited a resort, West Lake Resortopia, with former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and other KMT officials.
The facility was closed to the public and Chen was surrounded by two lines of security personnel as he watched a lion dance outdoors.
Arrangements for media were chaotic, with security personnel, reporters, photographers and TV cameramen jostling for space.
Some reporters were annoyed after discovering that they would not be allowed to cover a lunch hosted by Miaoli County Commissioner Liu Cheng-hung (劉政鴻) of the KMT.
However, reporters were allowed to place tape recorders in the room during the closed-door lunch.
Chen said he “regretted” that he could not stay longer in Miaoli or have more contact with its residents. Nevertheless, he said he could “feel their hospitality.”
Referring to Wu as “chairman” and his “good friend,” Chen said he appreciated Wu’s driving an hour and a half to see him in Miaoli.
Meeting Wu felt “natural and normal” and not political, he said.
The Mainland Affairs Council said before Chen’s visit that no KMT members would host any meals for him.
Chen said his “profound friendship” with Wu could not be easily changed “by any factors.”
“Being a government official is temporary, but being a person is forever,” he said.
Wu apologized to Chen for not being able to host the lunch.
He said he hosted a dinner for his “old friend” in November last year but that it lasted eight hours.
He was referring to a dinner he hosted that saw Chen stranded at the Grand Formosa Regent Taipei hotel when protesters surrounded the building and blocked the exits.
Wu said the KMT supported the government’s cross-strait policies and would work to convince the public that the policies were for their own good.
Meanwhile, Chen praised the Hakka culture, saying 65 percent of Miaoli’s population is Hakka and that Hakka are a “simple, honest and kind” people.
Wu is a Hakka.
“As Hakka culture promotes ethnic harmony, this spirit is part of our Chinese tradition,” Chen said. “I greatly appreciate Hakka culture.”
Later in the day, Chen was accompanied by Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) to visit Jenn Lann Temple in Dajia Township (大甲), Taichung County.
More than 1,500 police were dispatched from surrounding townships and counties to maintain security at the scene.
About 100 young men, dressed in pink and red shirts and some covered in tattoos, stood guard around the area.