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NTU clash highlights need for new cross-strait mode of interaction

2017/09/25 15:58:28

CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 25 (CNA) Political experts on cross-Taiwan Strait relations are calling for a new mode of interaction between China and Taiwan following a clash between pro-unification and pro-independence groups at the Sing China Music Festival Sunday.

The festival, which was supported by both Taipei and Shanghai to showcase the singing talents of both sides, came to an abrupt halt when tensions ran high among multiple protest groups present.

At the center of the argument was the fact that the organizers of the concert damaged National Taiwan University's (NTU's) track and deprived its students of access to the athletic field in order to put the event together.

Even before the damage was done to the track, however, there were already complaints that a poster described NTU as "Taipei Taiwan University," something that caught the eye of both pro-independence and pro-unification groups.

Protestors from all sides crashed the event, chanting slogans and bearing banners. The organizers announced a halt to the festival two hours into the show.

As the crowds were dispersing, protesters got into a verbal altercation that led to a scuffle. Four individuals were injured as a result.

In the aftermath of the clash, Taiwan Thinktank researcher Tung Li-wen (董立文) told CNA that the incident will affect cross-strait exchanges and mutual trust.

NTU should deal with the damage to the field according to the school's policies, and the police should deal with the violence that took place, Tung said.

What is most important, according to Tung, is not to let "outside influences" affect the situation.

Quoting President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) address at the Democratic Progressive Party's national congress Sunday, the researcher said that cross-strait relations must find a middle path of moderation rather than one that is characterized by extremes.

"We must not dwell on the hatred or depend on ingratiating ourselves to China; rather, we should find a new mode of interaction," she stated.

Stating a similar sentiment, Chao Chien-min (趙建民), director of the Graduate Institute for Sun Yat-sen Thought and Mainland China Studies at Chinese Culture University, said that the Taiwanese public should not be condemned for insisting on Taiwan's sovereignty, but similarly, pro-independence declarations and actions are difficult for Beijing to accept.

Therefore, the government must find a way to get China to agree to a new mode of interaction, he said.

In dealing with these highly sensitive topics, it is a test of both governments' wisdom in how they come up with a solution, Chao continued.

NTU, a co-organizer of the event, is also reflecting on how it can prevent such clashes in the future.

NTU Secretary-General Lin Ta-te (林達德) apologized for what the school has put its students through and said that when making decisions regarding renting its facilities out in the future, it will prioritize students and their needs.

(By Miao Zong-han, Phoenix Hsu and Kuan-lin Liu)