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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:

我很害怕,我從沒這麼害怕過。直至半夜一點半了,寫著部落格,我的手還在發抖;我眼睛很痠了,但盯著電腦螢幕,我必須將我的感受及害怕都寫出來。

我懇請各位部落格讀者及我各位網友們,不要以各種形式去嗆陳雲林及警察。

因為,台灣人,我很怕下一個受到這種暴力對待的人,會是你/妳;我真的很怕。

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.

馬英九上任不到半年,
過去八年無法想像的事一一發生.

警察的眼中竟然沒有國家法令,只有上級命令.
明明是執行毫無法源依據的勤務,
明明是在戕害民眾的自由,
明明是缺乏正當性的行動,
但你在這些警察眼中看到的是理所當然的表情,
彷彿他們很樂於戕害民眾自由,
彷彿在他們眼中維護上級的利益高於維護民眾的利益.

這個就是軍閥的心態啊!

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:

民進黨那四個議員在圓山掛布條,警察要趕;吹氣球抗議黑心食品,警察要趕;光是在機場舉著國旗,警察也要趕。

這些行動夠理性夠和平了吧?但警察大人將它們同視,這無異宣示,我們莊嚴神聖的法律,平等地禁止一切集會遊行,不論理性或激情,不論和平或暴力。

說得更極端一點,在警察國家眼裡,群眾的存在就是暴力,個體意志的存在就是暴力;在中產階級看來,國家暴力以外的暴力永遠都是錯的,既然是錯的,它為什麼存在也就無須探究了。

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.

42 comments

  • GodBlessTaiwan

    Buddhawind:

    First of all, I believe they did apply for protest permit but was either turned down by the Taipei city govt or the permit had already been given to the KMT who applied for permits so that no one else could get it. Secondly, the protesters were mostly quite peaceful. Shouting does not equate to violence. When the only way to get your voice heard is through shouting, I don’t see what’s so wrong about shouting. You’ll see shouting in most protests in the world. On the other hand, the police in Taiwan have been using unnecessary violence and were arresting people w/o any legit reasons (a girl got arrested for just holding a video camera!). Most of them weren’t even anywhere near that Chinese official, so using the excuse of “protection” just doesn’t cut it. It is understandable that the guest need to be protected, but dispatching 7000+ police forces is ridiculous, and using barbed wires and violence on your own people over a hostile country’s official is even more inexcusable.

  • ifan

    Buddhawind,

    Please do not discredit Taiwanese’ non-violent protest and support the violence brought by the police. Many protesters are not related to DPP. DPP is driven by the people instead of leading the people now.

    If Taiwanese can choose our guests, we surely welcome the guests. However, Taiwan’s citizens do not have rights to refuse Chen’s visit, and this is why many Taiwanese do not welcome him as a guest.

    If you like to live in a country that citizens will be pushed to a wall when they walk on the street without any reason or citizens waving their own national flags will be stopped on the road by the police without any explanation, how about we giving you our president?

  • Ivan, Taiwan

    Yes, this is exactly the Taiwaner’s way, as they feel disgusting about anything against the constitutionally protected free speech right, just like 鄭南榕事件 era. Remenber these protest things you may not like to see build what you have today, including sitting in front your computer reading free news sources without any sensorship, or expressing your opinions while you dont have to register your ip address in the police office before you get on net.

  • Carol

    Taiwan is my country!

    I have every right to speak freely and protest. I will fight for my rights. My dear international friends, please help us and stand by us!

  • oiwan,

    I have updated inmedia. The situation now is even worse than 陳巧文 in Hongkong. The policing is everywhere.

  • knights

    You Taiwanese are nothing but a bunch of cried babies. You like Chen Shui Ben, because he stole your money!

  • knights

    To clarify, I only directed the above message to Chen Shui Ben the western thug supporters. . ..

  • readingsimple

    Too funny. Many policemen got injured because of the riots’ deeds. Now the riots pretend they are the victims!!

  • Maconald

    Thanks David Reid for bring this. I now know the some media (like Ming Post in Hongkong) is only a propaganda machine for .

  • Get real

    As a Chinese,i understand that Twanese have the right to express their opinion in their own contry. But if those rights r only used to insult and harasse the chinese official + anybody who comes from China like the lady reporter
    …than Twanese r giving freedom of speech a really bad name. The tw. protesters never intend to make any meaningful dialog with the chinese official, they just saw a chance to insult the Chinese like 潑婦罵街, look what they have done so far:

    -they compared the Chinese with pigs,
    -they called us 共匪? hello? 1950 is over, anyone in TW got it?
    -they attacted reporters from China verbally & physically
    -they threw stones & molotov cocktail, which, i am pretty sure without any police presence, will hit the chinese guy one way or the other.
    -wifes who came from china now living in TW were chased down the street by a mob of protesters
    -before that chinese guy even entered TW, there were death threats towards him.

    Even during the torch protests in the west back in april, there werent this kind of violence and extreme verbal insults. The TWanese went waaay beyond freedom of speech, they just use it to cover up their extreme hatred towards anything chinese. Its not just about the chinese government, i simply suspect that the Twanese hate the Chinese like the nazis the jews in 1940.
    I strongly recommand chinese citizen to stay away from TW until the situation gets better.

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