Wed, Dec 22, 2010 - Page 3 News List

CROSS-STRAIT TALKS: Police remove DPP councilors

‘BITTER WINTER’:Despite several attempts, the city councilors were unable to convince security guards to let them enter the Grand Hotel to get a cup of coffee

By Vincent Y. Chao and Ko Shu-ling  /  Staff Reporters

Chuang Ruei-hsiung, second right, front row, and other Democratic Progressive Party Taipei City councilors stand near the entrance of the Grand Hotel yesterday.

PHOTO: LO PEI-DER, TAIPEI TIMES

Police forcibly removed several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) councilors who staged a brief sit-in at the Grand Hotel yesterday, the second day of protests against ongoing negotiations with Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (陳雲林).

The protest, close to the hotel where Chen is staying during his three-day visit, began in the morning with 11 DPP city councilors and later escalated into a brief clash with police and injuries to at least two people.

The city councilors, led by DPP Taipei City councilor Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄), said they wanted to hand Chinese officials a statement symbolizing their opposition to the cross-strait talks.

In the letter — written in both traditional and simplified Chinese — the city councilors described Chen as a “migrant bird who visits Taiwan every bitter winter.”

The statement accused China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) of lacking credibility after claiming that most of the issues outlined in 14 signed cross-strait agreements have yet to be implemented.

Saying they are not against talking with the Chinese because cross-strait dialogue is bound to make both sides understand each other better, Chuang added that dialogue is not the same thing as belittling Taiwan and suppressing different voices.

The city councilors declined to let Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) officials or hotel managers convey a petition letter, which they said they would like to personally present to ARATS officials.

The group was initially stopped by police from traveling along a public road leading to the hotel. The police had set up three checkpoints along the way, complete with large barricades, barbed wire and staffed by dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers.

“You have no way to stop the more than 10 of us here. You must be joking,” Chuang told officers at the first checkpoint before being stopped by a hotel supervisor at another checkpoint.

Backed by dozens of plainclothes police around the main entrance, the supervisor apparently did not accept remarks from the city councilors that they simply wanted to enter the hotel restaurant for a stroll and “a cup of coffee.”

A brief scuffle took place as DPP City Councilor Hung Chien-yi (洪健益) attempted to run past the plainclothes police before being tackled and held back.

Hung claimed the clash left him with multiple abrasions on his back, while another bystander was shoved to the ground during the altercation. It was unclear whether the bystander, who apparently fell after a police officer ran into him, was a plainclothes officer.

Holding banners that read -“Oppose Backroom Negotiations,” “Oppose Leaning Toward China,” “Oppose China’s Bullying” and “Protect Sovereignty,” the city councilors chanted the banner slogans while sitting on the stairs in front of the hotel square before being picked up by uniformed police and led, one by one, into waiting police vehicles.

“They [the Chinese] have never treated us like a country, but is it right that when [Chen] comes, we let him enjoy our presidential treatment?” Chuang told reporters before being led away, apparently referring to Chen’s large entourage which includes a motorcade of up to 20 vehicles.

Two female councilors, along with Hung, refused to be transported down the hill in a police van and instead decided to walk.

Hung made several attempts to enter the hotel, but to no avail. He was surrounded and chased by security details and media as he walked and ran around the hotel. He also engaged in physical clashes with security details and fell down to the ground several times during the scuffle.

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