Pro-Taiwanese independence National Taiwan University (NTU) students who protested against the “Sing! China Taipei-Shanghai Music Festival” and were attacked by gangsters “were asking for a beating,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chen Chao-ming (陳超明) said yesterday, urging Premier William Lai (賴清德) to stop protecting the students and creating ideological conflict.
The Miaoli County lawmaker made the remarks during a legislative question-and-answer session with Lai and Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), during which he accused the two of being “biased” in their handling the incident that left three students injured, including NTU Department of History student Chang Keng-wei (張耿維), who sustained injuries to his head after Chinese Unity Promotion Party member Hu Ta-kang (胡大剛) allegedly attacked him with a baton.
The concert, now in its third year, was a spinoff of the annual Taipei-Shanghai Forum and the lease of the venue had been approved by the university prior to the event, making it hard for anyone to tolerate the protesters’ occupation of the stage in an attempt to spoil the event, Chen said.
“If I legally leased a venue for a birthday party for my mother and you, Premier Lai and Minister Yeh, tried to ruin it for no reason, I guarantee you there would be more than some beatings, there could even be some killing,” Chen said.
The university’s approval of the event sparked widespread student protests, Yeh said, adding that criminal gangs must not enter university campuses.
Chen interrupted, saying that the protesting students had infringed on the event organizers’ rights and by doing so, they “were asking for a beating.”
“Just because they are students, should that make them privileged? Why are you still defending them?” Chen asked.
Lai said that the university had conceded that it was “inappropriate” to lease its facilities for the concert following a review.
The university had originally decided against renting out its facilities, but some lawmakers had put pressure on it to approve the request, he said.
Lai’s remarks triggered more criticism from Chen, who accused the university of “blatantly using the influence” of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), an alumna, and her administration.
Advocates of Taiwanese independence and unification across the Taiwan Strait should treat each other with mutual respect, Chen said, adding that the Ministry of the Interior should have allowed police officers to take action against protesting students, rather than punishing the officers after the situation got out of control.
Chen asked Lai to clarify a statement he made last week that he is a “political operative that supports Taiwanese independence.”
“It is President Tsai’s jurisdiction to set the nation’s cross-strait policy and my political beliefs do not equate to [the nation’s] cross-strait policy,” Lai replied.
It is an established fact that Taiwan is a sovereign nation whose official title is the Republic of China (ROC), Lai said, adding that his stance does not sway from that of former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who had said that “the ROC is a sovereign nation commonly known as Taiwan.”
He said he hopes China would understand that it is the hope of Taiwanese that they could create a win-win situation by promoting cross-strait exchanges. He also urged the Chinese government to acknowledge the ROC, so that both sides of the Taiwan Strait can put aside their differences and identify common ground.
The premier later told KMT Legislator Lu Hsiu-yen (盧秀燕) that people should not be pessimistic about the Chinese Communist Party’s 19th National Congress on Oct. 18.
Lai said that he “had expectations” for the congress, adding that he hopes China would respond favorably to the unchanged goodwill Taiwan has extended to it.
Lai’s remarks echoed those of Tsai during an interview yesterday, in which she said: “Tawan has conveyed the highest level of goodwill [toward] China,” and that she hoped both sides of the Taiwan Strait could identify a “new model” of warmer cross-strait relations after the congress.
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