A Taiwanese official has said that mainland Chinese people who remove messages from “Lennon Walls” will not be allowed to return to the island upon leaving.

“Lennon Walls” are colourful message boards that have appeared across Hong Kong districts containing messages of support for ongoing pro-democracy protests, triggered in June by an ill-fated extradition bill. The phenomenon has since spread to Taiwan.

A Lennon Wall in Taoyuan City. Photo: Pei-Ju Teng/HKFP.

There have been several cases of mainland students and tourists removing messages of support for the Hong Kong protests from boards in Taiwan, sparking on-site confrontations. Such incidents have occurred at I-Shou University, Soochow University, Chinese Culture University, Shih Hsin University and National Sun Yat-sen University.

Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Wang Ting-yu said at the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday that during such encounters, mainland students have assaulted other students. He said in one case the assailant poured tea on others at a restaurant.

Wang said that prohibiting reentry to those who engage in vandalism such as destroying “Lennon Walls” would protect Taiwanese and Hong Kong students.

“If you are a student without a political mission… you are welcome to study here,” he said.

He added that the ban could affect Chinese tourists and students returning to the island from their holidays.

Chiu Feng-kuang, director-general of the National Immigration Agency, replied saying that those who violate laws or perform inappropriate acts would be put on a travel restriction list, according to section 12 of The Rules Governing Permits for People in Taiwan Entering Mainland China.

“If they violate rules and laws, we will not allow them to come in,” he said.

Chiu added that the entry of relevant mainland Chinese citizens into Taiwan would be determined by a joint review committee.

“I believe the joint review committee would not allow them in,” he said.

Lennon Wall at Soochow University. Photo: National Students’ Union of Taiwan

Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, said that there have yet to be any cases of mainland students in Taiwan undergoing legal proceedings as a result of confrontations with others at “Lennon Wall” sites.

He said schools have been handling such incidents through mediation and by promoting mutual respect for alternative opinions.

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Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.