A series of protests at several locations in Taipei against the meeting between President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) began on Friday night and continued yesterday morning until Ma departed for Singapore at 5:30am.
At about 11pm on Friday night, dozens of people holding up banners advocating Taiwanese independence arrived in front of the Presidential Office Building, accusing Ma of being a “9 percent president” trying to “sell off Taiwan.”
“No to the opaque Ma-Xi meeting, no to concessions on Taiwan’s sovereignty,” the protesters chanted until police officers moved in to remove them, at which the chanting turned into angry yelling and shouting.
Both protesters and police officers were injured in a clash between the two sides.
After several waves of clashes, the police lined up behind shields and pushed the protesters away, forcing them to leave Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the Presidential Office Building.
The protesters then headed to the nearby Legislative Yuan, where clashes also broke out and some scaled the front gate of the legislature’s compound.
“We are here to voice our opposition to Ma’s meeting with Xi, because his low approval rating shows that Ma has no right to speak for the Taiwanese public,” National Taiwan University student Tien Cheng-hung (田政弘) said. “After the 1992 cross-strait meeting [in Hong Kong], the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ suddenly came into existence. Who knows what will result of the Ma-Xi meeting?”
Following the arrival of reinforcements shortly after 12:30am, an overwhelming number of police began to push demonstrators out of the Legislative Yuan compound, triggering yet another wave of clashes.
Although the compound was cleared out not long after 1am, nearly 200 more people arrived to participate as news of the protest began to spread.
The protesters remained outside the legislature, occupying the right-most lane on Zhongshan N Road and refusing to leave, despite repeated calls by police.
At about 3am, another group of protesters led by Sunflower movement student leader Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) gathered outside Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) — where Ma’s flight was scheduled to depart at 5:30am — and tried to force their way into the air force’s Songshan Air Base command building.
Chen and 26 other protesters were quickly arrested by police, and yesterday afternoon were sent to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office for questioning.
Citing concern over the possibility of more protests, police later closed off the portion of Minquan E Road in front of the airport.
A third group of protesters mobilized by the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) arrived outside the airport at 5am, planning to hurl shoes and other items at the president’s convoy, but were thwarted after the convoy took a detour.
The protesters then burned a funeral-style portrait of Ma, resulting in the arrest of TSU Department of Youth Affairs director Chang Chao-lin (張兆林).
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