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September 23, 2017

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Activists plan to 'red card' Wang-Zhang meet

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Student activist groups yesterday unveiled a series of "red card" protests against the upcoming Wang-Zhang meet between Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and his Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) counterpart Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

Led by student activist leaders Chen Wei-ting (陳為廷) and Lin Fei-fan (林飛帆), the student and citizen activists gathered in front of the MAC office yesterday, calling for people to rally with their red cards — a reference to the recent ongoing FIFA World Cup — on June 25 to protest against the second Wang-Zhang meet.

According to Chen, the activists have insisted that all cross-strait agreements be supervised by a law and should be handled carefully. "What we have to take into consideration is that the (Wang-Zhang meet) may give way to more political negotiations," said Chen.

Zhang is set to visit Taiwan between June 25 and June 28, meeting Wang in Taoyuan on June 25. A second meeting is slated to be held over tea in Kaohsiung on June 27. The TAO minister will be meeting New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫), Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) — the only opposition leader on the schedule — during his visit.

"Because we are against non-democratic, under-the-table negotiations, we also oppose political propaganda that degrades Taiwan's sovereignty as well as empty promises that are handled vaguely," said activist leader Lai Chung-chiang.

The upcoming Wang-Zhang meeting has reportedly induced tension among the public.

Kaohsiung Mayor Extends Welcome

Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) yesterday extended her welcome to Zhang regarding his upcoming visit, also noting that she would ensure Zhang's security and safety while he visits generally pan-green Kaohsiung. "I respect all different opinions as long as they are relayed peacefully," said Chen. Many Taiwan independence advocates were supposedly planning to tail Zhang's entourage to express their determination to protect Taiwan.

In an interview yesterday, Chen stated that Zhang's decision to visit Kaohsiung indicates that cross-strait issues are no longer limited to single-party, single-opinion talks; different voices and perspectives are respected as well.

As for the topics Chen will be discussing with Zhang, the Kaohsiung mayor noted that she would be taking advice from the city's cross-strait relations team. Potential topics may include Kaohsiung's agriculture and farming industries.

Chen welcomes all potential visitors to her "confident and open city," adding that the Kaohsiung City Government will do its best to keep the peace during the visit as many people are allegedly concerned about potential security issues.

The MAC earlier informed Chen of Zhang's visit to Kaohsiung, and the news was also reported to the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to which Chen belongs. "The DPP encouraged me to meet with Zhang," said Chen.

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