Taiwan’s Activists Protest Application to Join China’s New Infrastructure Bank

Taipei police remove Black Island National Youth Front members protesting outside the Presidential Office Building in Taipei on Tuesday night after some protesters reportedly attempted to enter the building.Apr 02, 2015.  Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

SELF-DEGRADING:One activist said the government filing an application to join the AIIB through the TAO was equivalent to admitting that Taiwan was a part of China

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter
Taipei Times

Following the government’s announcement that it had asked China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) to forward its application to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) on Tuesday, hundreds of people rallied outside the Presidential Office Building late into the night and into the morning yesterday to protest the move.

Holding banners and shouting slogans accusing President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) of being a traitor, a crowd of more than 30 people — mobilized by several student activist groups, including the Black Island National Youth Front and Democracy Tautin — gathered in front of the Presidential Office Building without prior notice at about 9:30pm on Tuesday night.

Military police officers in charge of maintaining security reacted quickly to stop the protesters and surrounded them.

Severe clashes broke out when military and civilian police officers — who rushed to the scene after the activists arrived — tried to forcibly remove protesters, and at least one protester was handcuffed, while several protesters and officers were wounded.

Although initially there were just slightly more than 30 protesters, more people arrived after learning about the event through the Internet and news reports.

A second wave of clashes broke out when the newly arrived crowd stood in front of two police buses in an attempt to block the police from taking away those they had arrested.

The blockade continued for about half an hour, until police cleared the road.

“We are here to voice our opposition to the government’s AIIB membership application under the ‘one China’ principle through the TAO,” Democracy Tautin deputy convener Wu Cheng (吳崢) told the crowd.

“If Taiwan wishes to join the AIIB, then we should apply to it directly, not through a Chinese government agency. That is tantamount to saying that we are part of China,” Wu said.

Black Island National Youth Front member Lai Yu-fen (賴郁棻) said that, should the government not cease its self-degrading behavior, “our actions today will only be the beginning.”

The tension between law enforcement and protesters diminished as more people turned up to show their support for the protesters; there were between 300 and 400 people present by about midnight.

Moreover, others delivered water and food to the protest, while a medical aid station was also set up.

A minor incident occurred when a police officer chased a woman who crossed the police line, which was set up at about 2am to prevent more people from moving in. The officer found himself surrounded by an angry crowd and was trapped until his colleagues rushed to his rescue a few minutes later.

The standoff continued until after 4am, when police lined up to drive the crowd away.

The crowd left with no resistance, but moved to the Mainland Affairs Council headquarters nearby, where they held a news conference at 7am explaining their actions.



Taiwan’s application to join the AIIB criticized

Taiwan’s letter of intent to become a founding member of China’s proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) was signed by Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和), but lacked his name and title at the ministry beneath his signature.

A copy of the cover letter and the letter of intent shown at a news conference, hosted by Chang and Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia (夏立言) at 10:50pm on Tuesday, showed that neither was printed on government letterhead stationery, while the official name of the nation and the ministry were also absent.

Chang told reporters after the briefing that ministry’s emblem was originally printed on the letters, but was taken out after discussions between the council and China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) regarding the application.

In response to questions as to why the nation’s name was not mentioned and in what capacity he wrote the letters, Chang said he signed the letter as “minister,” and not in his personal capacity.

Several Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers yesterday condemned the government for denigrating the nation’s status by omitting its name in the letters.

“Not only was the Chang’s official title not used, but the name of the Republic of China [ROC] was not included as part of the ministry’s address in the contact information. It was a complete denigration of the nation,” DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said.

Chen said that the ministry’s address was written as — 2, Aiguo W Road, Taipei, Taiwan, 10066 — meant that Taiwan was not treated as a nation, but rather as a region of China, because otherwise the postal code should have been placed before Taiwan, as is the norm.

Making a pun of buzhang (minister, 部長), DPP Legislator Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) asked if “Chang was the buzhang of a xiaochibu [refreshment stand, 小吃部] or of a lifabu [hair salon, 理髮部].”

However, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said the ambiguous term of “minister” was a way to address Chang that was acceptable to China and upheld the nation’s dignity.

China would have rejected the application had the letters been signed by Chang as “Minister of Finance, Republic of China,” Lai said.

“‘Minister’ suggested that he was a minister from Taiwan,” he added.

According to the council, copies of the letters were faxed to the TAO at about 7pm on Tuesday, while the Ministry of Finance faxed another set of copies to the AIIB’s Interim Secretariat at about 9pm after the council acquired its contact information from the TAO.

The Ministry of Finance transmitting the letters directly to the AIIB was in reaction to public uproar against President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) decision at a national security meeting on Monday to have the application filed through the TAO.

TAO spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) yesterday told a news conference in Beijing that the agency had received Taiwan’s letter of intent and welcomed its participation under the “proper name.”

However, as of press time last night, the Chinese Ministry of Finance, which updates data on AIIB membership applications on its Web site by issuing a welcome note to applicants, had not published information about Taiwan’s application.

Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (華春瑩) on Tuesday said that Taiwan’s application to join the AIIB “should avoid the issues of “two Chinas,” or “one China, one Taiwan.”

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One Response to “Taiwan’s Activists Protest Application to Join China’s New Infrastructure Bank”

  1. gingerblokeblog Says:

    Reblogged this on gingerblokeblog.

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