China’s #1 official to Taiwan, Chen Yunlin, came to Taiwan for the first time in history, to hold talks with Taiwan’s #1 official to China, Chiang Ping-kun. Needless to say, it was an extremely busy day. I went to work at 8h00 this morning and just got home. It is midnight. I’m glad I had a decent breakfast before going into FTV, because I could only survive on energy bars and protein shakes all day. Oh, I’m tired!
This morning, our assignment was to cover pro-independence protestors, who were practically everywhere. Different organizations, some led by political parties, some led by city councilmen and some self-started, staged protests all over the city. There were banners, ribbons, balloons, flash mobs, props, skits, sit-ins – you name it, they had/did it… One organization even offered a USD300 reward if someone hit Chen Yunlin with an egg. I didn’t see any egg-washing, but there were quite a few scuffles with the 10 thousand strong police force mobilized for Chen’s visit.
In addition to independence activists, there were other parties popping up with their own protests as well – people yelling “Free Tibet,” people shouting “stop the oppression of Falun Gong,” exercising the freedom of speech that they don’t have in China.
Although I personally believe dialogue between Taiwan and China is good and necessary, many people do not. They are deathly afraid of losing their hard-fought democracy. People were saying things like, “Get out of here, you Communists. You’re not welcome here,” or “You want to talk? Get those missiles that you’ve got pointed at Taiwan out of there first.” There is a deep hatred for China among some people here, and it’s only Taipei. If Chen Yunlin went to southern Taiwan, I’m not sure even 20 thousand police and military units can stop him from being mobbed and skinned alive.
It’s only the first day of Chen’s trip, and I’m already half dead. I’ve had to delegate away my two travel features for this week. But it feels great to be recording history and seeing things first hand. And to make things better, my regular cameraman’s on holiday, so I’m working with someone else. What a perfect situation. AND, I made a new friend today. While waiting for Chen Yunlin come out from having dinner with Taiwanese government officials and business leaders, I struck up a conversation with a Japanese newspaper cameraman. He’s the Hong Kong bureau chief of Asahi Shimbun, and he’s here to help cover Chen’s visit. We chatted for at least half an hour, and I think he’s a genuine person with a warm heart. Maybe we’ll have dinner sometime. I hope there’s time.
Meanwhile, I need to get my health back. I’ve been having too much stomach acid and feeling nauseous a lot, and my immune system must be down, because both of my ear pierces are inflamed. Aigh.
Tired, a little sick, but happy and excited.