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