TAIPEI, Taiwan—Another mainland Chinese tourist has been kicked out of Taiwan after he was charged with intentionally destroying a “Lennon wall” put together by locals to show their support for Hong Kong protesters.
The 35-year-old man, only identified by his last name of Hu, was arrested by local police after he was caught taking down posters plastered on walls at an underpass in the central Taiwanese city of Taichung, on Oct. 27.
There are multiple Lennon walls in Taiwan, most of them located on college campuses. These walls are large mosaics of posters and Post-it notes that convey messages of solidarity with Hong Kong protesters.
Hu lives in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the capital of central China’s Hubei Province, and came to Taiwan on a business visa, according to local broadcaster ETToday. He was originally planning to stay in Taiwan for a week, prior to his deportation.
Mass demonstrations in Hong Kong started in June against a controversial extradition bill that many feared would erode the city’s judicial independence. While the bill was formally withdrawn on Oct. 23, protests in the city have continued as protesters call for greater democracy.
Hongkongers’ pushback against Beijing’s encroachment upon Hong Kong affairs has resonated with many Taiwanese, who are increasingly expressing their displeasure at Beijing’s tactics to diminish the island’s sovereignty and its military maneuvers to intimidate the Taiwanese people.
Taiwanese have shown their support for Hong Kong protesters by taking part in local solidarity rallies, while others have donated helmets and gas masks to protesters.
Local police referred Hu to Taichung’s prosecutor’s office on one count of damage to property. According to Taiwan’s government-run Central News Agency (CNA), Hu was fined NT$30,000 (US$928) and must attend a legal education session before leaving the island.
On Oct. 28, Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency deported Hu based on a local regulation governing cross-strait relations, according to CNA. The agency also imposed a five-year ban that prevents Hu from entering Taiwan.
Denis Chen, one of the organizers of the “Lennon wall” in Taichung, wrote on his Facebook page on Oct. 27 that “the damage to the posters is a minor issue, but damage to Taiwan’s democracy is major.”
“Using violent means to hurt [the island’s] freedom of speech, and ignoring how Taiwan is a country with rule of law is something that cannot be tolerated,” Chen said.
Taichung city councilor Chiang Chao-kuo was quoted by CNA as saying that Taiwan doesn’t welcome mainland Chinese who are “not adapted” to freedom and democracy. He said Chinese people shouldn’t come to Taiwan seeking to destroy the island’s freedom of speech.
Hu is the second Chinese deported this month for damaging a Lennon wall. Earlier this month, Li Shaodong, 30, was arrested for damaging a wall on the campus of National Taiwan University; he was also fined $30,000 and slapped with a five-year travel ban.
Media have also reported Chinese exchange students damaging other Lennon walls in Taiwan. In one incident, a Chinese exchange student at I-Shou University attacked his schoolmate from Hong Kong after the latter tried to stop him from removing Post-it messages in support of Hong Kong protests.