’Sing! China’ concert in Taiwan halted amid protests

This photo shows a group of pro-Taiwan independence activists occupying a concert stage at the National Taiwan University in Taipei during a protest on September 24, 2017. (File photo: CNA Photo via AFP)
Updated 25 September 2017
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’Sing! China’ concert in Taiwan halted amid protests

TAIPEI: A music concert in Taiwan descended into chaos over the weekend when independence activists clashed with pro-China groups, with three people injured in the scuffles.
The incident comes amid heightened tensions between the self-ruled island and the mainland since Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen took office in May last year, with Beijing cutting off all official communications.
The event Sunday at the National Taiwan University in Taipei was meant to showcase performers from the Chinese reality TV show and singing competition “Sing! China” — the country’s equivalent of US talent show “The Voice.”
About 100 to 200 people attended the concert, which was free to the public and co-hosted by the city government and a Shanghai association promoting cross-strait exchange, organizers said.
But it quickly became a hotbed of political protests as pro-independence groups waved banners and sounded horns inside the venue, with some calling the event another ploy by Beijing to influence the island.
A group of students also protested against the university renting the field out for the event and preventing students from using it.
After organizers decided to end the concert early, clashes broke out between the protesters and pro-China groups.
Footage in local media showed protesters taking over the stage chanting: “We are the National Taiwan University, not the China Taiwan University!“
Three people were injured, with one student surnamed Chang saying he suffered a bloodied head and injured arm after being attacked by pro-China groups. Police took one man in for questioning.
Emotions are running high in Taiwan as locals become increasingly wary of Beijing’s efforts to cast its influence.
China sees Taiwan as part of its territory waiting to be reunified and wants its president to acknowledge the island is part of “One China,” which she has refused to do.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) condemned the violence on Monday, calling on police to investigate the case.
“Sing! China” sees aspiring singers compete against each other for a chance at fame, and features heavyweight Asian popstars such as Taiwan’s Jay Chou and Hong Kong’s Eason Chan.
Outside of China it has also gained a following in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.


Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

In this file photo taken on August 5, 2010 a pregnant woman walks outside the State Department in Washington, DC. (AFP)
Updated 13 min 22 sec ago
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Migrant spouse of pregnant woman detained on way to hospital

  • Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification
  • They do not have legal authorization to live in the US, and all five of their children are US citizens

LOS ANGELES: A California woman said Saturday that she had to drive herself to the hospital and give birth without her husband after he was detained by immigration agents.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the man was detained because he was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant in a homicide case in Mexico.
Maria del Carmen Venegas said she and her husband, Joel Arrona Lara, were driving to the hospital Wednesday when they stopped for gas in San Bernardino, just east of Los Angeles.
Surveillance footage shows two vehicles immediately flank the couple’s van after they pulled into the gas station. Agents with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement questioned the couple and asked for identification, Venegas said.
Venegas, 32, said she provided hers but that Arrona had left his at home in their rush to the hospital. The surveillance footage shows the agents handcuffing the 35-year-old Arrona and taking him away, leaving a sobbing Venegas alone at the gas station.
Venegas said she drove herself to the hospital for a scheduled cesarean section for the birth of her fifth child.
“I feel terrible,” Venegas said in a telephone interview from the hospital as her newborn son Damian cried in the background.
“We need him now more than ever,” she said.
Venegas said she and her husband came to the US 12 years ago from the city of Leon in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. They do not have legal authorization to live in the US, and all five of their children are US citizens, she said.
Venegas said her husband is a hard worker and the sole provider of the family.
In a statement issued Saturday afternoon, Immigration and Custom Enforcement said Arrona “was brought to ICE’s attention due to an outstanding warrant issued for his arrest in Mexico on homicide charges,” spokeswoman Lori Haley said.
ICE said agents with the agency’s Fugitive Operations Team detained Arrona on Wednesday and said he remained in custody pending removal proceedings.
Though the team prioritizes arresting immigrants who are transnational gang members, child sex offenders and those who’ve had previous convictions for violent crimes, the agency’s statement said it “will no longer exempt classes or categories of removable aliens from potential enforcement.”
“All of those in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States,” the statement said.
Emilio Amaya Garcia, director of the San Bernardino Community Service Center, said his nonprofit group is providing legal help to Venegas and Arrona, will file a motion on Monday for an immigration court to set a bail hearing for Arrona and will ask that his removal proceedings be canceled.
Garcia did not respond to messages and calls for comment about the arrest warrant in Mexico.