27 held amid protests in Taiwan over Xi-Ma meet

Members of the Taiwan Solidarity Union protesting outside Songshan airport over the meeting between the leaders.
Members of the Taiwan Solidarity Union protesting outside Songshan airport over the meeting between the leaders.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

TAIPEI • Protesters tried to storm Parliament overnight and 27 people were arrested at the airport yesterday over Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, which Mr Ma's opponents call a sell-out to Beijing.

At Taipei's Songshan airport where Mr Ma gave a brief address to reporters before boarding his flight to Singapore, protesters tried to burn images of the two leaders.

The 27 were arrested after they attempted to push their way through a guarded side gate.

Later, up to 500 protesters, representing an array of groups including farmers, rights activists and environmentalists, raged over the cordial get-together at the Shangri-La Hotel where Mr Ma told Mr Xi that they already "feel like old friends".

"How can he... without any negotiation go to meet with the leader of our enemy? I believe this is getting to the level of treason," said Taiwan Association of University Professors vice-chairman Lin Hsiu-hsin.

Yesterday, hundreds of angry protesters gathered outside Mr Ma's office, condemning his warm exchange with Mr Xi at the summit which has fuelled fears that the island will be swallowed up by its giant rival.

The talks have been hailed as a historic opportunity to end decades of hostility between the two sides which split after a civil war, but there has been a backlash among Taiwanese suspicious about Mr Ma's rapprochement policy.

Ties with China have blossomed under Mr Ma. As presidential elections loom in January, there are deep suspicions over the reasons for the summit, declared less than a week ago, and fears that China is trying to secure another victory for Mr Ma's Kuomintang party, which is lagging behind badly in the polls.

In Singapore, the police escorted several members of the anti-China Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) out of a hotel yesterday, Taiwanese media reported. A TSU spokesman in Taipei said legislative candidate Hsiao Ya-tan was "taken away by police" with two of her assistants.

The Singapore police, in a statement, said they were interviewing five Taiwanese nationals amid a security clampdown at the Shangri-La Hotel, but did not say if they were from the same group.

"Foreigners in Singapore are reminded to comply with our laws and heed the directions of the police and other officials.

"Those who break the law will be firmly dealt with," the statement said.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 08, 2015, with the headline '27 held amid protests in Taiwan over Xi-Ma meet'. Print Edition | Subscribe