Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong under police protection in Taiwan after assault attempt
Student leader and local legislators in Taipei for political seminar
Taiwan police ramped up protection for Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung and a few pro-democracy lawmakers after a failed attempt by a pro-China protester to assault him as he arrived in the island state in the early hours.
Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je pledged that police would “protect all guests”, adding that violence had no place in a civilised society like Taiwan’s.
Wong had been set to attend a seminar organised by a local political party over the weekend.
About 200 protesters from a pro-China group in Taiwan gathered at the arrival hall of Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport at midnight. They chanted slogans deriding Wong, and Hong Kong legislators Nathan Law Kwun-chung and Edward Yiu Chung-yim – who arrived on the same flight at 12.30am – as “independence scum”, saying they were not welcome in Taiwan.
There were about 100 police officers, but a man broke through their lines and almost punched Wong, who was hurried into a vehicle in time.
“I wasn’t expecting [pro-China protesters to show up] be it in Hong Kong or Taiwan,” Wong said on Saturday afternoon at the panel discussion, organised by Taiwan’s New Power Party, a rising political force born of the student-led Sunflower Movement in 2014, that put a brake on a trade pact with China.
Wong said it was the first time he had encountered such protests in Taiwan, having visited the self-governing island for exchanges with local political parties last year.
He and the lawmakers were under close police protection after the attack, and would be throughout their stay, a police inspector said.
But Wong said the Taiwanese police did not notify them of any extra security protection outside of attending public events.
Before their departure for Taipei, Wong and Law encountered about 50 pro-China protesters as they checked in at Hong Kong International Airport.
Armed with banners that read “Chinese traitors, running dogs, human scum”, the crowd shouted obscenities at the pair in the departure hall, without any apparent interference.
Outside the seminar venue in Taipei, scores of protesters – many of whom wore masks and sunglasses – voiced their opposition to what they called the collusion of “independence scum from Taiwan and Hong Kong”.
Dozens of police officers guarded the venue, and set up roadblocks nearby.
The use of violence by pro-China groups in Taiwan – some known to be affiliated with local triads – on their political enemies was unheard of even during the Sunflower Movement, said Lin Fei-fan, one of that movement’s leaders.
“But this time they tried to openly assault these lawmakers from Hong Kong who travelled all the way here,” he said.
New Power Party chairman Huang Kuo-chang said the seminar could not have happened in Hong Kong, as he and a few fellow party members had been denied Hong Kong visas in the past.
Wong, Law and Yiu will be joined on Sunday by lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, Huang and Lin, as well as members of the country’s legislature for a panel discussion on how pro-democracy parties in Hong Kong and Taiwan can learn from each other.
Yiu and Chu said they had no plan to meet any other political parties during their stay, and that they had not had any contact with the Taiwanese government.