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Protesters organize to preserve historic Keelung Harbor site

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Several cultural and historical workers went to Keelung Harbor to protest the demolition of the West Third Wharf and Depot (西三碼頭), yesterday.

The group of workers formed the “Against the demolition of the West Third Wharf” page on Facebook and called on dozens of people to protest at the Keelung Port yesterday. Holding signs saying “Leave the historic site for Keelung” and “We want urban renewal as well as historic monuments,” the protestors expressed their desire that the structure not be torn down.

Keelung City Council Speaker Huang Ching-tai (黃景泰), Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) deputy secretary general Lin Yu-chang (林右昌) and two candidates for Keelung city mayor, Wu Wu-ming (吳武明) from The People First Party and city councilor Shih Shih-ming (施世明), were on the scene to support the protestors.

During the protest, people at the scene heard the sound of drilling coming from inside the building. Fearing that demolition had begun, the protesters went to the construction site and knocked on the door of the depot. Some protestors shouted at workers and others attempted to climb over the wall to stop the work.

Police attempted to block the protestors using riot shields, and the situation was at a stalemate until the Port of Keelung, managed by Taiwan International Ports Corporation, Ltd., sent an officer to explain that the workers were only digging a ditch, not demolishing the building.

Protestors then asked the Keelung Port to cancel the demolition plan. Huang also voiced support for negotiations by contacting the CEO of Keelung Port, Tsai Ting-yi (蔡丁義) and announcing that the demolition would be deferred until Feb. 12. In addition, there will be a negotiation conference between the Keelung Government, protestors and Keeling Port officials to discuss the issue.

A protest group leader, Chang Chih-hao (張之豪), said the port has witnessed the history of the Taiwanese people who went to Japan to study and trade under Japanese colonial rule, and it is where millions of soldiers returned home following the Korean War. Chang said they hope that the government will transform it into an exhibition or performance area that could become a new tourist attraction in Keelung.

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The West Third Wharf and Depot (西三碼頭) in Keelung is seen, yesterday. The building was scheduled to be torn down for an urban renewal project yesterday, but protesters stopped the demolition and scheduled a meeting to negotiate the building's status. (CNA)

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