On the third day of rallies against Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), police mobilized water trucks and again deployed barbed wire barricades, although protests remained largely peaceful.
The demonstrations came one day after a similar event in Greater Kaohsiung drew between 150 and 200 protesters, according to press estimates, against the Chinese envoy’s groundbreaking visit to southern Taiwan.
Tensions reached their peak early yesterday morning as local Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) politicians and protesters threatened to drive a campaign truck into the barricades separating them from Chen’s hotel.
In efforts to calm the increasingly vocal rally, numbering about 300 according to press estimates, an increase from Thursday, representatives from the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) negotiated with organizers to accept a Taiwanese Republic flag as a message to Chen.
The DPP politicians said they were satisfied with the response, although many continued to chant slogans and hurl insults at Chen, telling him to “roll out of Taiwan” and “never come back.”
“It’s all a farce,” DPP Chiayi County Councilor Sammy Huang (黃嫈珺) said of the reports of large agricultural purchases by Beijing. “China hasn’t benefited Chiayi County or its farmers one bit.”
There were also more walk-in protesters this time around in the mainly agricultural city, which voted blue in the last elections, but lies in an area that has traditionally elected pan-green politicians.
The message they expressed was largely consistent with Thursday’s, with many saying that they wanted to see the Chinese envoy leave Taiwan and criticizing the cross-strait policies of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration.
One woman took her son, Liu Chung-han (劉忠翰), and was busy teaching the three year-old how to say “Protect Taiwan” and “Get out, communists,” aided by other protesters, including farmers and local business owners.
“The Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] doesn’t care about us Taiwanese people. It is leaning too heavily toward China’s interests,” said Lin Chin-jung (林金容), a farmer who brought signs to attach to the barricades.
Another man, who declined to be named, held out a sign saying that former KMT president Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) would be “crying” if he knew that Ma was “consorting with the communists to sell out Taiwan.”
Most of the demonstrators also carried Taiwanese independence flags, spurred by the 908 Taiwan Republic campaign, which bused many of the protesters from Greater Taichung and Yunlin County, while several others carried DPP party flags.
Firecrackers were also set off during the afternoon and evening.
Many DPP politicians used the rally as an opportunity to express their campaign platform, with several aspiring local and legislative candidates standing on top of campaign vehicles, whipping the crowd with bullhorns and singing.
A feud between some of the politicians, however, led some local DPP councilors to withdraw their supporters, abruptly ending the rally just after noon. A few protesters remained, yelling slogans at Chen.
“Taiwan will never be a part of China,” said one middle-aged woman as she climbed onto the barricades, while dozens of police looked on.
Protest organizers say that the rallies will continue today in Yunlin County.