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MAC defends security measures during TAO meet in Kaohsiung

TAIPEI--The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) defended yesterday the government's efforts to maintain security during last week's visit by China's Taiwan affairs chief that sparked violent protests in Kaohsiung.

During a meeting with a group of opposition Democratic Progressive Party legislators, MAC Vice Minister Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) confirmed that his council was responsible for the choice of the Sunset Beach Resort hotel in the southern city as the venue of an informal meeting between MAC Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO, 國台辦).

After the venue was determined, the MAC requested the National Police Agency to coordinate with the Kaohsiung police with regard to relevant security measures, including assessing whether the place was safe for the event, Chang said.

He said the police did their utmost to maintain Zhang's security and that the MAC appreciates their hard work.

On the way to the meeting with Wang last Friday, some vehicles and members of Zhang's security detail were splattered with white paint by anti-China protesters. Some also threw ghost money at the visitors, considered to be an insulting gesture.

Several protesters were injured during clashes with police.

The incident has led to criticism of security lapses by the police.

Also commenting on the incident Monday, Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) said that prior to the meeting, the city government had tried to persuade the MAC to change the venue for security considerations.

Chen pointed out that the seafront hotel is located within the grounds of National Sun Yat-sen University and is accessible only by a narrow road, making it difficult to maintain security.

In response, the MAC's legal affairs chief, Yeh Ning, admitted that the Kaohsiung city government had voiced security concerns over the venue. But after the MAC requested the city government to conduct a second assessment, it said the problems could be overcome, Yeh said.

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