Bloody protest erupts as Chinese minister visits Kaohsiung

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Blood flowed during clashes between protesters and police in Kaohsiung Friday as China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun met the city’s Democratic Progressive Party mayor, Chen Chu.
The Chinese official has been dogged by protesters right from the start of his unprecedented four-day visit at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport on Wednesday.
Major incidents included activists first asked to leave their hotel room and then confined to the same room, and the arrest of students trying to block a road by chaining themselves to each other.
As Zhang left the arena where he had met Chen Friday morning, protesters succeeded in breaking through the police cordon and hit the Chinese minister’s minibus while they also threw food and bottles at the vehicle, reports said. Police tried to drag the protesters away.
During the scuffles, a student named Chuang Cheng-yang was pulled down by an officer and hit his head on the ground, reports said. The National Sun Yat-sen University student told reporters he had just been standing by the side of the road and had not been holding any protest banners or weapons. Police said he had been blocking the road. Another student, surnamed Yang, had his right leg injured in the melee, reports said.
Officers also tackled a local election candidate for the opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union who slammed Zhang’s vehicle. The politician reportedly threatened to sue the police.
Earlier, during a visit to a wetlands park on the outskirts of Kaohsiung, protesters held up a large red card, symbolizing their demand that Zhang leave Taiwan immediately, just like soccer players at the World Cup should leave the match immediately after being shown a red card.
The Kaohsiung City Government said the police needed to enforce security but could not use excessive force, while protesters were allowed to voice their opinions as long as they did not use violence.
Early Friday morning, alleged members of the TSU showed up at the Banqiao high speed rail station in New Taipei City just as Zhang and his delegation were about to board a train to Kaohsiung.
As he reached the platform and prepared to board the vehicle, about ten protesters emerged to shout “The future of Taiwan will be decided by the Taiwanese people” and “Zhang Zhijun, go back to China,” reports said.
According to the police, the protesters belonged to the same group which had stood outside Zhang’s hotel in Danshui, New Taipei City, banging pots early in the morning to wake him up. They reportedly bought train tickets so they could appear on the train platform with luggage, posing as regular train passengers until Zhang arrived.