Daily Bloom is the shortform blog of New Bloom, covering breaking news events as they occur in real-time.
It has been a dramatic few days for Taiwan. Much has been remarked upon already about the Xi-Ma meeting and the mass spectacle it was, including everything from Xi and Ma’s actual meeting to Want Want China Times reporter Chou Yu-Kou screaming in the background of Ma’s press conference after the meeting, accusing Taiwanese reporters of not knowing to ask questions. Less remarked on to date have been the actions of resistance to the meeting to date. We might take a look where there has been a lack of coverage in English.
Demonstrators in front of the Presidential Residence. Photo credit: Minmin
Concurrent with the Xi-Ma meeting, a rally and march of several thousand took place in front of the Presidential Residence on Ketagalan Boulevard, Qingdao East Road, and Zhongshan South Road. This was long planned, the rally having been originally been called for by activist groups Democracy Tautin, Dreamdom, and Taiwan Restoration of Social Justice. Other groups that called for the rally were Taiwan Democracy Watch, Taiwan Association for Human Rights, and the Economic Democracy Union, with demonstrators originally assembling in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Past leadership figures of the Sunflower Movement including Lin Fei-Fan and Huang Kuo-Chang were present. This morning, three members of Democracy Tautin, Dreamdom, and Taiwan Restoration of Social Justice were turned away from Singapore, having been sent there to directly express discontent with the Xi-Ma summit.
Demonstrators outside the Legislative Yuan. Photo Credit: 楊淳卉/AppleDaily
The most dramatic events we have seen to date direct actions against the Xi-Ma summit that took place the night before the meeting’. An coalition of the Free Taiwan Party, Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan, Recapture Taoyuan, Dreamdom, Singing Revolution and other groups seem to have been the main organizers of a demonstration outside the Legislative Yuan which also included an attempt to charge the Legislative Yuan, which left one protestor injured after cutting her wrist, leading to being sent to the hospital. Another protestor seems to have bit a police officer during this time. Approximately 200 protestors would gather through the night.
Chen and others in front of the doors of Songshan Airport. Photo credit: 王奕凱
But if the demonstration outside the Legislative Yuan was more premeditated in nature, the spontaneous act of protestors going to Songshan Airport to protest directly against Ma’s leaving for Singapore, was the most dramatic of acts to resist the Xi-Ma summit which have happened to date. Seeing as Ma was scheduled to leave at 6 AM on Saturday morning for the meeting, ten to twenty protestors went to Songshan Airport, including Sunflower Movement student leader Chen Wei-Ting. This number later grew to well over fifty, at the very least, though the number is hard to judge.
White Wolf’s followers. Photo credit: 黃燕茹
Though underreported upon, followers of gangster turned pro-China politician “White Wolf” Chang An-Lo would make an appearance then, taking demonstrators by surprise when after coming into conflict with then running from police, they suddenly passed Chang’s followers with their signs. However, a police escort was present and Chang’s followers did not come into conflict with demonstrators. An Internet rumor states that Chang’s followers were actually paid off to demonstrate however, being paid 600 NT each.
When the fire extinguisher was set off. Photo credit:蜜蜂連線 Livestream
Demonstrators, as led by Chen Wei-Ting, who seems to have just taken charge of events on-site, would later force their way into a parking lot building after police efforts to box them in and attempt to reach the roof. During the course of this, a fire extinguisher seems to have been set off, though it is unclear whether by students or police and the building’s sprinkler may have also become active; students were also heard complaining about smoke during the livestream of the action. Students were eventually forced out of the building and arrested.
Students looking out a window in the parking lot building while trying to make it to the roof and finding that the building was surrounded by police. Photo credit:蜜蜂連線 Livestream
With Ma scheduled to return just after midnight by plane, some wondered as to whether demonstrators may once again assemble at Songshan Airport. This did not happen. Now that the Xi-Ma meeting has happened and we can all see the results, it seems almost impossible there will not be more protest in the near future, however.
Author: Brian Hioe
Photo Credit: Minmin
Biography: Brian Hioe (丘琦欣) is an M.A. student at Columbia University, a freelance writer on politics and social activism, and an occasional translator. He is a former resident of Taipei, Taiwan.