Jan 07, 2017 Legal Comments Off on Violence erupts as Hong Kong activist, lawmakers visit Taiwan
Violence and protests erupted in Taiwan Saturday as Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (???) and lawmakers arrived in the country to attend a forum.
Wong, the student leader during Hong Kong's pro-democracy protests in 2014, and Hong Kong lawmakers Nathan Law (???), Edward Yiu (???) and Eddie Chu (???) were invited by Taiwan's New Power Party (NPP) to attend its forum in Taipei to talk about democracy, lawmaking and civic and social movements.
The forum has been heavily criticized by China's Taiwan Affairs Office as a conspiracy to merge Taiwan and Hong Kong independence movements, with the intention of dividing China.
The NPP is a political party that grew out of Taiwan's 2014 Sunflower Student Movement, which opposed a trade pact signed with China.
Close to 200 members of the pro-unification Concentric Patriotism Alliance staged a protest at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport when Wong and the Hong Kong lawmakers arrived early Saturday.
Men dressed in black and wearing masks broke through the police blockade and attempted to attack the visitors as they walked out of the arrival hall, but the attackers were quickly subdued by police, while Wong and the lawmakers were escorted safely to a car.
Hundreds of supports of pro-unification groups, including Chinese Unionist Party, also staged a protest outside the forum's venue in Taipei later that day, shouting slogans such as "Go back, Hong Kong independence movement; Go back, Joshua Wong."
Police estimated that there were about 300 protesters outside the venue but said the demonstration ended peacefully.
At the forum, Wong said he and the three lawmakers were not advocates of Hong Kong independence, and that it was a label pinned on him by people in the pro-China camp.
The 20-year-old said he was surprised that his visit has drawn such fierce protests, since his intention was to share how Hong Kong's democracy movement went from the streets to the Legislative Council and how leaders of the civic movement tried to build public confidence.
Lawmaker Nathan Law, meanwhile, said it was obvious that the protests were a result of the Chinese Communist Party trying to manipulate "patriotic sentiment."
He said, however, that it will not affect their advocacy of Hong Kong's democracy and autonomy, and they will continue their normal and healthy interactions with Taiwan.
In response to the chaos, NPP Chairman Huang Kuo-chang (???) said Beijing would be better off thinking about how to promote democracy in China rather than trying to suppress democracy in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
He said his party had invited Wong and the lawmakers to Taiwan because it hoped to facilitate more interactions between the new political parties in Taiwan and Hong Kong, but it had been difficult for NPP lawmakers to enter Hong Kong.
Lin Fei-fan (???), one of the main leaders of the Sunflower Student Movement, told reporters on the sidelines of the forum that the Chinese government should reflect on why the civil societies in Taiwan and Kong Kong are so closely connected. It was not plotted by the people, but a response to oppression by the Chinese government, Lin said.
Asked to comment on the incident, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (???) told reporters at an event at Taipei Zoo that he had asked the police to protect Wong and his companions. Taiwan is a civilized society where people can express their opinions, but they should not resort to violence, Ko said.
Meanwhile, at the forum Saturday, Wong, who is also secretary general of the pro-democracy political party Demosisto, said the difference between social movement and political movement is that work at the Legislative Council requires communicating with people with different viewpoints and gaining the support of median voters.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel