The Taiwanese police is investigating alleged ties between local criminal syndicates and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) after clashes broke out between student protesters and pro-unification groups on September 24.
On Sunday evening footage emerged showing Hu Ta-kang (胡大剛), a member of the Party for the Promotion of Chinese Unification (中華統一促進黨, PPCU) attacking and injuring a student with a stick. Another student as well as a PPCU member were also wounded during the scuffles.
Zhang Anle, who is known as the “white wolf”, fled to mainland China in the 1990s during a crackdown on triads launched by the Taiwanese government. He lived in China for 17 years and reportedly cultivated ties with the Communist Party.
He returned to Taiwan in 2013 and began promoting a pro-unification platform according to Beijing’s “one country, two systems” formula, which would deprive Taiwan of its sovereignty and independence while granting it a degree of “autonomy.”
Last Sunday the PPCU disrupted peaceful protests on the campus of National Taiwan University (NTU), where pro-independence groups and students were demonstrating against a musical festival co-sponsored by the Chinese reality TV show Sing! China and the Taipei City government.
Following Sunday’s violent clashes, the Chief of Taiwan’s National Police Agency Ch’en Chia-ch’in (陳家欽) stated that the police suspected gang members of “disrupting people’s rights and freedom under the guise of civil associations,” and announced a crackdown on criminal syndicates to stop “illegal acts.”
That was not the first time that Zhang Anle’s party was involved in pro-China political activities and violent clashes.
During the 2014 Sunflower Movement, the PPCU protested against students who had occupied the legislature to block the passage of a controversial trade agreement between Taiwan and mainland China. As The Taipei Times reported in April of that year, Zhang and his supporters “engaged in an hours-long standoff against supporters of the Sunflower movement at one end of Zhengjiang Street, with scores of policemen acting as a buffer between the two sides.”
The PPCU was also involved in protests against the Anti-Black Box Curriculum Movement in 2015 as well as in violent clashes on January 7, 2017, when pro-unification groups gathered at Taoyuan Airport to protest against the arrival in Taiwan of Hong Kong democracy activists, including Joshua Wong (黃之鋒). Zhang Anle’s son, Zhang Wei, and other party members attacked police officers and were later charged with assault.
The police believes that Taiwan’s triads, including the Bamboo Gang, the Four Seas Alliance, and the North Alliance, are taking part in political activities on behalf of China under the guise of civil associations.
Taiwanese gangs allegedly entered mainland China about 20 years ago to engage in various illegal businesses. Many gang members, however, failed to succeed on their own and ended up seeking ties with Communist Party officials.
On September 26 Taiwanese lawmaker Ch’iu I-ying (邱議瑩) during a question time session asked the government about alleged ties between the PPCU and mainland China. She cited reports claiming that China had paid 5 million yuan to Zhang Anle and 3 million yuan to the Bamboo Gang. “I suddenly don’t feel safe, I’d better write a non-suicide note,” Ch’iu said ironically at the end of her speech.
Interior Minister Yeh Chün-jung (葉俊榮) told Ch’iu that under the current Civil Associations Act which regulates the constitution of political organizations the government has limited powers to intervene. Yeh added that the government will investigate whether the PPCU violated the Organized Crime Prevention Act and that it will speed up the approval of the pending Political Parties Act, which would allow for stricter regulation of political organizations.
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