Taiwan: The Phantom of Police State is Back, Officially

The visit of Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) Chair Chen Yunlin marks a historic moment in cross strait relations. Chen is the highest ranking official of the PRC ever to visit Taiwan. His five day visit to Taiwan includes talks on economic and transport links.

While some welcomed his visit many Taiwanese were extremely concerned that it threatened the nation's sovereignty. It comes after newly elected President Ma Ying-jeou told a Mexican magazine in August that relations between Taiwan and China were between two regions. This downgraded the state to state formulations made during the terms of the two previous Presidents, Chen Shui-bian and Lee Teng-hui.

Chen arrived in Taiwan on Monday 3 November. Approximately 7,000 police were mobilised to prevent any protests. However, the actions of police went far beyond merely preventing any disruptions to Chen's visit. Bloggers had plenty of comments on the actions of the police.

CoffeeShop was one of three women who were assaulted and detained by police for carrying Tibetan flags. She wrote:




I'm so afraid and I've never felt so afraid before. Up until 1:30 at night my hands are still shaking; my eyes are hurting but still looking at the screen and I must get my experience and fears written down.

I sincerely request every blogger and online friend to read this. Don't use every kind of action to go out and protest against Chen Yunlin and the police.

Because, Taiwanese people, I'm afraid the next one to be on the receiving end of this kind of violence will be you. I'm really scared.

Du Gu Mu(獨孤木) @ disappearing ROC asked if legal gatherings can make Chen Yunlin understand Taiwan's democracy.

他媽的民進黨就算打了一萬個共匪好了,他媽的這干一般民眾什麼屁事呀?警察就可以沒有搜索票就闖入民眾合法租賃的飯店空間?這關一般在路上拿著國旗抗議的 民眾什麼事?民進黨不管哪個人打人你都法辦了,可是拿這個當藉口就可以侵犯人權?你還真以為他媽的台北戒嚴了喔?幹!沒有用的無能低能總統!

Even if the bloody DPP just go out and hit 10,000 Communist bandits, what the fuck does this has to do with other normal citizens? The police can't just enter and search a hotel room that a person has legally rented. Stopping ordinary people on the road from flying the national flag in protest? For the DPP no matter who hit someone they are brought to justice, but how can the justice itself turn back to infringe on human rights with the DPP's excuse? Do you still really think bloody Taipei has gone back to martial law? The useless and incompetent President!

Melon Daily wrote that they never imagined the police would snap the national flag.

有這樣的警方嗎?陳雲林來台,台灣民眾舉國旗嗆聲被員警當場折毀,但五星旗卻可以公然飄揚,歡迎陳雲林車隊通過,連國民黨議員自己都看不下去,罵警方毀國旗已經公然觸法, 甚至更離譜的是,還有女警禁止民眾拿國旗,理由竟然是因為機場是「公共場所」?

這一頭員警竟然硬生生將把象徵中華民國的國旗扯斷,但反觀中山北路這裡,這群號稱是「 中華統一促進黨」的民眾,卻可以大喇喇的舉著中國五星旗,迎接陳雲林車隊通過。

Do we have this kind of police? Chen Yunlin comes to Taiwan and people raise the national flag in protest then the police break the flag on the spot. Yet the five star flag [of China] can be openly displayed. When the motorcade of Chen Yunlin was welcomed even some KMT councillors couldn't stand to see what was happening. They scolded the police for openly acting against the law. Even worse was a female police officer who prohibited people from waving the national flag. She went so far as to give the reason that the airport is a public place.

This one police officer acted harshly to the ROC flag which is the national symbol of ROC. But on Zhongshan North Road [near the Grand Hotel] a group called the China Unification Promotion Party was able to wave the Chinese five star flag to welcome Chen Yunlin's motorcade.

June Beans Charles said the orders of superiors overruled the law.




Ma Ying-jeou has been President for less than six months, and for the past eight years things I never imagined something like this could happen just happened.

The police suddenly don't even recognize the laws of the nation, they're just following the orders of their superiors. Obviously they're carrying out their duties without regard to the law. Obviously they're destroying the ordinary people's freedom. Obviously they don't know the appropriate way to take action. But in the police officers’ eyes you can see a natural expression. It's as if they are happy to destroy the people's freedoms. It's as if they see safeguarding the interests of higher authorities as more important than protecting the people's interests.

This is just the attitude of a warlord!

kiantix wrote:




The police want to catch four DPP city councillors who hung the signs at the Grand Hotel; the police want to catch the people who released balloons protesting against contaminated food; the police want to catch the people who just waved the national flag in the airport.

Aren't these actions peaceful enough? However, the police have made vows to protect the solemn and sacred laws which prohibit everyone coming together for parade or assembly, no matter whether its reasoned or passionate, peaceful or violent.

To speak even a bit more extremely, in the eyes of the police the people's existence is violence, the people's will is violence. It seems that the middle class think violence, except for state violence is always wrong, so why don't they need to have an inquiry about this violence if people's existence is violence?

English language bloggers also had something to say about the police. Eric at Taiwan Dream Foundation wrote that the arrival of Chen Yunlin looked like a return to martial law and was also a huge waste of police resources.

How does Ma Ying Jeou ( 馬英九) and his government deal with a person like this? By deploying 10,000 Taiwanese police just to protect Chen Yun Lin's eyes and ears from seeing and hearing the voice of the Taiwanese people. By the way, the entire police force in Taiwan numbers 70,000 to put the 10,000 into perspective. If Ma Ying Jeou is so worried that Chen Yun Lin might see the R.O.C. flag or hear someone say that Taiwan is independent and not a part of China, then he should just give Chen Yun Lin a blindfold and some ear plugs. Problem solved, and just think of all the money Taiwan could save.

A-gu at That's Impossible: Politics from Taiwan writes of some incidents that make it seem like martial law really has returned.

I think it's fair to say the government really is going WAY too far. The excuse that police are only taking measures designed to protect Chen's safety and avoid illegal demonstrations is simply not true. Martial law really is in the air. Arbitrary detentions and “banned songs” are back from the dead.

Lao Ren Cha responded to the way the media often labels Taiwan independence supporters as extremists.

They're not extremists! Well, some are. If you want extremists – those guys with that van on Dihua Street who advocate China joining the USA as the 51st state (well, 53rd after Canada and Iraq I suppose) fit the bill better. They're activists, and more people agree with them than foreign correspondents seem to realize – but so many independence-minded people don't dare say so, and realize that recognized, de jure independence is unrealistic now. That doesn't make those who voice their views extremists. It means they're exercising their right to free speech.

Looking at the last protest, I don't think 600,000 people (the author himself offers this figure below) can be labeled as ‘extremists’ – they're a legitimate political bloc.

tony4tw laments the attack on freedom of speech and calls on all bloggers to unite and take action.

As a Taiwanese citizen here in Taiwan, we are asking for your help. Today, we were getting oppressed to our freedom of speech. Tomorrow, will we loose our right to any forms of freedom? After China’s invasion of Taiwan, Taiwanese will all be marched to the concentration camp! Therefore, all the Taiwanese beseech all the Plurkers to help us by passing out our message. Without your help, we are all alone! With your help, we will be able to raise awareness and fight the Goliath.

As Chen Yunlin's visit to Taiwan continues there are sure to be many more loud voices in the blogosphere making their opinions known.

*Thanks to Portnoy for his assistance with this article.


  • […] have co-written a post at Global Voices with Portnoy detailing some of the responses to the police actions from the blogosphere. There is […]

  • […] 我,現在不敢大聲說出台灣/中華民國是一個自由民主的國家。二十多年前的警察國家,真的又回來了。(當然,也有人說戒嚴幽靈根本從來沒消失過。) […]

  • oiwan

    still far from the Hong Kong Olympic experience… police took away protesters’ banners by force (when the protesters were miles away from the Olympic site!)

  • Taikula

    Good report, David. I spoke recently with several friends who were in Hsinchu during this event. They report similar things. All of them expressed feelings of dread and disgust that Taiwan’s government would suppress constitutionally protected free speech to please a Communist Party flunky from Beijing. All of these people had voted KMT in the last election but now express regret that they did so.

  • The situation is getting worse….I can’t recognize this place that I’ve been living for 27 years anymore.

  • ifan

    Taiwan’s police also took away protesters’ banners by force. What I saw reminded me what happened before the Olympic. I also suspect that not all of the “police” in Taipei are Taiwanese.

  • Lukker

    Thanks David’s translation. Please foreign friends see below news:
    The French stand up for Taiwanese, we sincerely thanks him.

  • […] here: Comment on Taiwan: The Phantom of Police State is Back, Officially … Tags: airport, article, breaking-news, chinese, global-voices, government, november-5th, people, […]

  • Buddhawind

    Isn’t the Taiwanese way, a visitor is a guest? Or is this a Chinese custom? It’s kind of funny to see “Taiwanese” with Chinese customs fighting so fiercely with influences of the West. Especially if they can’t adopted correctly.
    I commend the Ma Government for reacting reasonably and calmly. Obvious for someone with a Harvard education that can know what to do and have the class to carry it out. The police of Taiwan isn’t a “police state” they’re just reacting to prevent any mishaps in this protest because of the fine example of the previous protest by the DPP where a visitor got hurt. The police hasn’t even brought out billy sticks in the first few days, it’s because things have escalated that they need it.
    If you’re not part of the DPP then stay away from them, don’t blame the government because you run with hoodlums. Apply (unlike the DDP) for proper protest like a proper citizen and I’m sure the Government will give you an area.
    It’s hilarious that the party can be so malicious against the KMT when the DPP’s ex president is a crook and is inciting the people to violence. That’s not just limited to the violent protests, but chaos displayed in the parliment. Does the DPP Mps only know how to shout? I’ve learned a long time ago as a boy that shouting doesn’t accomplish anything.

    — Sad Taiwanese

  • […] David's article on “The Phantom of Police State” coming back with Chen Yun-lin (陳雲林)'s visit to Taiwan on 3 of Nov, I have collected some […]

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