. China News .

Scuffles erupt at Hong Kong pro-government march
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) Dec 30, 2012

Taiwan holds first Chinese music concert
Taipei (AFP) Dec 30, 2012 - Thousands of music fans packed a Taipei stadium to watch the island's first concert staged by Chinese singers and rock bands, reports said Sunday, in the latest sign of warming cross-strait relations.

The concert organised by the Chinese Music Chart, dubbed China's Grammy Awards, saw some 60 bands and singers from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan perform before screaming fans Saturday, but also drew dozens of anti-China protesters.

They chanted pro-independence slogans and waved anti-Beijing banners outside the stadium, television reports showed, but were unable to interrupt the concert which included performances by Chinese singer Han Geng and actress Zhang Ziyi.

Without the prior approval of Taiwanese authorities, organisers of the Chinese Music Chart unilaterally announced in November that an award ceremony would be held in Taipei for the first time after it was set up in 1993.

The plan drew fire from the opposition, prompting the Chinese award organisers to change the award presentation ceremony to a concert at the demand of Taiwanese authorities.

The concert "is part of Chinese communist... tactics against Taiwan people and we're here to voice our desire that we don't want to be ruled by China," said protester Tsai Ting-kui, according to the Liberty Times.

Beijing still insists Taiwan is part of China even though the island has ruled itself for more than 60 years after their split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

But ties with China have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang came to power in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform. He was re-elected in January for a second and final four-year term.

Scuffles broke out Sunday as thousands marched in support of Hong Kong's scandal-plagued leader Leung Chun-ying, ahead of a mass pro-democracy rally planned for New Year's day.

Around 2,500 people took to the cold and windy streets waving Chinese flags and shouting slogans in favour of Leung, who faces possible impeachment proceedings over illegal alterations to his luxury home.

Leung was chosen to lead the southern Chinese city in March by a pro-Beijing election committee, promising to improve governance and uphold the rule of law in the former British colony of seven million people.

But in his first sixth months in power, Leung has seen his popularity ratings slide and faced a no-confidence vote in the city's legislature.

"We welcome people to support the government and to support the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong citizens," said Caring Hong Kong Power, the organisers of Sunday's march which began at the city's Victoria Park and ended at the government headquarters.

But scuffles erupted mid way between pro-Leung supporters and anti-government campaigners who arrived carrying colonial Hong Kong flags.

Some participants were also seen punching two reporters from a local television station, according to an AFP photographer.

"I am not comfortable with the increasing power of groups that create turmoil in Hong Kong," Stan Ngan, a 63-year-old retiree at the event told AFP, referring to increasingly vocal pro-democracy groups.

Pro-democracy campaigners plan to hold a rally on January 1 to demand the resignation of Leung and ask for universal suffrage, with organisers saying they hope to see 100,000 people at the rally.

Hong Kong returned to China in 1997 as a semi-autonomous territory with its own political and legal system that guarantees civil liberties not seen on the mainland, including freedom of speech and association.

Leung survived a vote of no confidence in the legislature earlier this month over illegal structures in his home, including a wooden trellis and a glass enclosure.

But he faces a planned impeachment motion scheduled for early January, with 27 pro-democracy lawmakers in the 70-member legislature saying they would support the motion.


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