Taiwan deports mainland Chinese tourist who tore down messages of support for Hong Kong protests
- Visitor named Li Shaodong is expelled from self-ruled island for violating terms of tourist visa after vandalising Lennon Wall set up at National Taiwan University
- Incident marks first time Taiwan has expelled a mainland citizen over the Hong Kong protests following a series of clashes at universities
Taiwan has expelled a mainland Chinese citizen for removing posters supporting the Hong Kong protests and banned the man from entering the island for 5 years.
Lennon Walls have sprung up at several sites on the island, mostly featuring messages of support for the Hong Kong protests, but they have also become flashpoints – with several clashes between supporters and opponents of the movement.
Taipei police appealed to the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office after Li, who came to the island on a tourist permit, removed posters at the campus on Monday morning.
Prosecutors decided the next day to fine him NT$3,000 (just under US$100) and deport him for violating the terms of his visa.
Li has already paid the fine and the National Taiwan University said it would not appeal against the decision, according to local news reports.
The university is a popular destination for mainland sightseers, many of whom also visit the nearby night market to sample local food.
Li could not be reached for comment.
The incident was the first time that Taiwan had deported a citizen of mainland China for actions related to the Hong Kong protests.
The move is bound to infuriate Beijing, which has blamed Western powers for provoking the so-called “colour revolution” and fears that anti-government protests may spread to mainland China.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen warned that mainland Chinese who attacked Hongkongers or damaged “Lennon Walls” could be barred from the island following a recent series of confrontations.
“Such incidents will not be tolerated. The entry of people involved should be restricted to a certain degree in the future to maintain our rule of law and social order,” Tsai said.
Officials at the ministry also said some mainland Chinese students had resorted to violence, such as pushing Hong Kong students down stairs or fighting with Hong Kong and Taiwanese students who tried to stop them vandalising the memorials.
Taiwan – a self-ruled democracy that Beijing regards as a renegade province – is seen by some Hong Kong protesters as a potential refuge.
In July this year it emerged that anywhere between a dozen and 60 protesters were seeking refuge on the island, but most later returned to the city after being warned by legal experts that the lack of clear process for handling refugee and asylum claims would complicate their cases.