No reports of Taiwanese deaths in mainland tragedy

No reports of Taiwanese deaths in mainland tragedy
Fire and smoke rises at the site of the massive explosions in Tianjin on August 13, 2015. Enormous explosions in a major Chinese port city killed at least 44 people and injured more than 500.
PHOTO: AFP

TAIPEI- One Taiwanese factory manager was injured in Wednesday night's massive blasts that struck mainland China's northern port city of Tianjin, and numerous factories were damaged, mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) confirmed yesterday.

Taiwan's Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said it was "paying close attention" to the developments, expressing sympathy to the victims and offering to provide assistance if needed.

TAO spokeswoman Fan Liqing stated that a Taiwanese factory manager, surnamed Wu, suffered minor injuries. A Cheng Loong Corp.

spokesperson said that the injured manager has since telephoned to report that he is out of danger and that his injuries were due to minor skin lacerations from broken glass due to the explosions.

Fan added that approximately 20 Taiwanese-invested factories suffered damage, including a collapsed workers' dormitory of Daertai Corp and damaged factory supply lines of Tingyi Holding Corp.

Other damage reported to Taiwanese-operated properties included broken glass.

Multiple blasts late Wednesday night were linked to a warehouse storing volatile materials, producing tremors that registered on earthquake sensors, flattening property, torching cars and leaving scores dead and injured. As of press time, official Chinese reports put the current number of dead at 50 with over 500 injured.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese as well as international media representatives were surrounded by a group of policemen.

Public Security Aggressive Toward Taiwanese Reporter

A Taiwanese journalist taking photographs in the fallout area in Tianjin was reportedly surrounded by public security personnel who proceeded to remove and confiscate the data storage card from his digital camera.

According to the reporter, the men were about to take him into custody but stopped when he presented his Taiwanese compatriots permit.

Demanding to have his data card returned, security personnel apparently told him to "beg on his knees."

In response to inquiries from the Taiwanese media, TAO spokesman Ma Xiaoguang said that it is likely the policeman who took away the memory card was under a great deal of pressure at the time, and he does not represent all policemen and Chinese authorities.

The TAO spokeswoman Fan said that its offices were working with Taiwanese representatives in the city to resolve the matter, while urging that Taiwanese media "should avoid drastic moves."

She later said that the officer who confiscated the data storage card may have been "under extreme pressure" due to the explosion, and that his actions were not representative of all of mainland China's police or government officials.

MAC Deputy Minister Wu Mei-hung urged China to respect journalistic freedom and ensure the personal safety of Taiwanese reporters operating in the area.

Both the MAC and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) have expressed concern and offered help to Chinese authorities in the wake of the series of deadly explosions.

MAC and SEF Offer Assistance, DPP Extends Condolences

Deputy Minister Wu said the Ministry of Economic Affairs has also contacted the Taiwanese businesspeople's association in Tianjin to learn more about the situation there.

She added that the Chinese side had received the MAC's statements of sympathy but they have not indicated any requests for assistance in the disaster area.

Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) on Thursday also extended condolences to the families of those killed in the explosion.

The DPP, meanwhile, expects that the Taiwan government will be fully informed about the safety of Taiwanese businesspeople in China, said the party's spokesman Wang Min-sheng,

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