In Taiwan’s bipolar world of blue (the Kuomintang) and green (the Democratic Progressive Party, or DPP), Chang An-lo stands out as one of the island’s most colourful politicians.
The 66 year-old is the president of the China Unification Promotion Party, which promotes closer ties with mainland China. Better known for his nickname White Wolf, Chang has also told media that he is the gang leader of the island’s biggest triad group, Bamboo Union.
Born in Nanjing, Chang moved to Taiwan with his family after Mao Zedong’s rise to power in 1949. Joining the Bamboo Union as a teenager, he climbed the ranks while studying history at Tamkang University. Arguably Taiwan’s most educated gangster, Chang even studied at Stanford for a period before he was jailed for 15 years for kidnapping and extortion in the United States in the 1980s. He served two thirds of his term, finishing another two college degrees in the process.
Chang had been on Taiwan’s most wanted list for nearly 17 years since he fled to the mainland in 1996. Returning last year to turn himself in, he was immediately arrested as he stepped off the plane. As he was cuffed, he showed off his book Peaceful Unification, One Country Two Systems. (Chang was bailed out four hours later and reporters gathered to watch him enjoying a meal of beef noodles.)
Why is Zhang in the news?
Thousands of students stormed government buildings in Taipei last month demanding the scrapping of a controversial trade pact with Beijing (see WiC231). The White Wolf saw red, rallying 2,000 supporters of the trade pact to confront the occupants of the parliament building. He also had scornful words for some of the politicians present at the scene. “You call us gangsters in daylight but embrace us as brothers at night time,” Chang shouted through a loudspeaker at DPP lawmakers. “You don’t deserve to be called Chinese.”
“We aren’t Chinese. Get lost gangster!” protesting students screamed back.
“You were born because of the [expletive] Chinese!” Zhang countered.
Reportedly some of Chang’s followers roughed up students as tensions flared. Police had to step in to separate the two groups.
Chang’s stunt earned him rave reviews in the mainland’s social media. “What a forceful show from the big brother,” a netizen wrote on weibo. “If a gangster manages to get so many university degrees, there is no reason for those students not to go back to college and study.” But Taiwanese media was less impressed. “The public is now considering the difference between freedom of expression for students and for organised crime, and where the limits should be drawn for the freedom to issue threats,” the Taipei Times wrote.
Meanwhile Chang has said he will stand for election to parliament.
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