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Hundreds protest over Taoyuan Aerotropolis

TAIPEI--Hundreds of protesters took to the streets yesterday in the northern county of Taoyuan to demand the suspension of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, where they confronted another group that came out to support the project.

The protesters marched from the Taoyuan train station to Taoyuan County Hall where they faced another gathering of people who support the project. The rally ended peacefully, with more than 100 police officers on hand to prevent scuffles.

The protesters demanded the suspension of a screening of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, the holding of public hearings on the issue, an increase in civic participation and more transparency for the project.

They also criticized land expropriation measures for the project as problematic, following the exposure of a corruption scandal involving sacked Taoyuan Deputy Magistrate Yeh Shih-wen, who was responsible for the project during his tenure as the county's deputy head.

In response, the county government said it will make efforts to ease their concerns.

The Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and the county government have held 86 briefings on the project and will continue to communicate with the public and ensure a transparent process, it said.

The MOTC will also hold meetings with the public to solicit their opinions, it added.

If a public construction project involves land expropriation from members of the public, hearings are necessary to step up communication with the public and solicit landowners' opinions, it added.

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