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Presidential Office clarifies apparent gaffe made by Ma

TAIPEI--The Presidential Office on Monday clarified President Ma Ying-jeou's criticism of the arrangements for a meeting between the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) chief and his Chinese counterpart in Southern Taiwan, which sparked violent protests.

Ma said the MAC had listed clearly which venues were suitable, “but Kaohsiung decided to choose a place that saw problems arise anyway,” hinting that Kaohsiung was at fault.

The Presidential Office said Monday that Ma's comment, made during a flight to Honolulu en route to Panama, needed to be revised because the decision on the venue was made by the MAC.

What Ma really wanted to stress, his office said, was that the police were not to blame for the violence.

The meeting between MAC head Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) and his Chinese counterpart, Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, took place at the scenic Sunset Beach Resort in Kaohsiung Friday evening.

On the way to the resort, some vehicles and members of Zhang's security detail were splattered with white paint as demonstrators on both sides of the narrow road shouted anti-Chinese slogans.

Some protesters also threw ghost money at them, an action considered insulting. Several demonstrators were injured during scuffles with police.

Ma criticized the protesters for splattering paint, saying that Taiwan has always projected a very positive image and should not resort to violence when expressing views.

“This is by no means a face that Taiwan's democracy should have,” the president said.

The MAC said it had checked with Kaohsiung police in advance to make sure there would be no security problems.

Ma left Taiwan Sunday night for a seven day trip to Central America that will take him to Panama and El Salvador, with transit stops in the United States.

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