Fri, Jun 27, 2014 - Page 3 News List

CROSSING THE STRAIT: Protests follow Zhang as he tours New Taipei City

WELCOMING PARTY:The visiting TAO minister’s convoy was at one point blocked by activists demanding that he ‘go home,’ but police cleared the way by arresting them

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

A woman holds up a banner reading: “Taiwan’s future is none of your business” against a riot police officer’s shield at one of several protests against China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun as he visited Sijhih District in New Taipei City yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Several Black Island National Youth Front members were arrested yesterday after they tried and failed to block a convoy transporting China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍) to an Atayal village in New Taipei City during a tour of the municipality that saw him dogged by protesters wherever he went.

At about 4pm, a delegation led by Zhang was on its way from New Taipei City’s Wugu District (五股) to the Aboriginal village in Wulai District (烏來), when more than a dozen people, including members of the civic group and hip-hop band Kou Chou Ching (拷秋勤), appeared on the only road leading to the village deep in the mountains.

The activists blocked the convoy’s path with a rope and a chain, while chanting: “We’re upset by the Chinese envoy’s visit.”

Dozens of police officers quickly arrived and tried to remove the protesters, but could not, since they had tied themselves to the chain and the rope.

The police eventually cut the chain and the rope, arrested the activists and cleared the road, but the incident still delayed Zhang’s trip to the village by 20 minutes.

As of press time, Black Island National Youth Front leaders Dennis Wei (魏揚) and Lai Pin-yu (賴品妤) were still in police custody.

Despite a heavy police presence, several other protesters made it to the village, where a brief welcome ceremony was held for Zhang.

“Zhang Zhijun, get out of Taiwan, go back to China,” a protester shouted suddenly as he sprung up from a crowd of reporters, before being immediately taken away by several officers.

Just as police hauled away the first protester, another climbed up a tree to shout: “Taiwan is Taiwan, China is China, we’re two different countries” as Zhang passed by.

As the Chinese envoy and his delegation toured the village, the shouts of protesters in the vicinity followed them.

Yesterday’s protests were made primarily by Falun Gong practitioners and pro-Taiwanese independence advocates who tailed Zhang as he toured New Taipei City.

Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, with protesters just holding banners and chanting slogans.

However, when New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) met Zhang in Wugu, a Chinese woman who lives in Taiwan broke through the police barriers in a bid deliver a petition about a dispute over a plot of land in her hometown in China to the visiting official.

“I’ve petitioned Chinese officials and the Straits Exchange Foundation numerous times, but no one has responded,” Li Shiying (李士英) said. “That’s why I’m here, I’m hoping to take my case to Zhang.”

Although Li did not manage to meet with Zhang, New Taipei City officials accepted her petition and promised to forward it to him.

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