Anti-China protest starts
The China Post news staff
December 20, 2009, 10:12 pm TWN
The opposition yesterday warned against "excessive" policing of an upcoming anti-China protest in Taichung, but the central city's mayor said the demonstrators will not be considered mobsters.
Opposition leader Tsai Ing-wen asked police to have faith in the participants in today's demonstration, urging police to show restraints.
She was responding to Taichung Mayor Jason Hu's call for demonstrators not to "vandalize shops" along the protest route.
Tsai, chairwoman of the Democratic Progressive Party, asked Hu not to presume that the demonstrators are mobsters.
Thousands of people are expected to take part in the DPP-organized march this afternoon in the central city to protest against the government's plan to sign an economic cooperation framework agreement (ECFA) with China.
Taichung is the host city of a fresh round of talks between Taipei and Beijing negotiators later this week.
ECFA issues are expected to be discussed although the sides have no plans to sign the agreement yet.
Taichung is wary of a repeat of the violent clashes between police and demonstrators during a protest in Taipei against the visit of Beijing's top negotiator Chen Yunlin.
Chen, head of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), will arrive in Taichung tomorrow.
Mayor Hu said he does not see the demonstrators as mobsters, but police need to prepare for "the worst."
"Preparing for the worst scenario... this is a wrong direction, and therefore it's wrong to say that I treat demonstrators as mobsters," the mayor said.
He said he understands that if the protest runs out of control, the DPP will be the first to come forward to try to restore order.
The DPP leadership has clearly vowed to impose disciplinary measures on party members whose misbehavior instigates violence, Hu said.
Taichung will assign 19 prosecutors to a task force monitoring civilian activities related to the upcoming cross-strait talks.
The Taichung District Prosecutors Office said it will come down hard on law-breaking activities in order to protect the ordinary people and maintain order.
The main opposition party is also wary that a repeat of last year's violence will alienate the Taiwan general public from their cause.
Tsai blamed the bloody clashes in Taipei last year on "excessive policing" on the demonstrators by law enforcement authorities.
She said the DPP has organized many other massive demonstrations, which were all peaceful.
She said massive demonstrations are no "battles," and protesters simply want to express their objection to Chen's meeting with his Taipei counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).
It is natural in a democratic society for people to openly express their views, she said.
The opposition camp, which has been critical of President Ma Ying-jeou's China-leaning policies, argues that an ECFA will cripple Taiwan's economy and aggravate unemployment.
Huang kun-huei, chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union, described ECFA as "anaesthetics" aimed at hijacking Taiwan's economy.
He said the massive demonstration today in Taichung is meant to let China and President Ma know what people in a democratic society think.