Clashes broke out between Tibet support groups and Grand Hotel staff in the lobby yesterday after the management canceled a room reservation made by the groups in preparation for the arrival of a delegation headed by Sichuan Province Governor Jiang Jufeng (蔣巨峰).
“We have signed a [room rental] contract with you and it was clearly written on the contract that the room would be used to hold a press conference. How can you cancel our reservation at the last minute? Is this how the Grand Hotel honors its business contracts?” Taiwan Friends of Tibet (TFOT) president Chow Mei-li (周美里) asked Grand Hotel manager Michael Chen (陳行中) after being informed of the cancelation. [emphasis added]
Granted, it's understandable that the hotel management would want to avoid unpleasantness under their roof. The type of unpleasantness that might ensue after renting rooms to antagonistic parties. However, a contract is a contract, and having signed it the hotel was obligated to manage the situation as best it could.
But instead, hotel management decided to compound their error by plunging themselves into a public relations fiasco:
More serious verbal and physical conflict broke out when Tibetans accompanying Chow grew impatient and took out banners and Tibetan flags that were to be used to decorate the news conference venue. They shouted slogans calling on Jiang to release the more than 300 monks arrested from Kirti Monastery in the predominantly Tibetan area of Ngaba in Sichuan Province and to withdraw troops and police that had placed the monastery under siege.
The manager and other members of the hotel management tried to take the signs and banners from the Tibetans by force.
The two sides pushed and shoved, while hotel management and staffers chased Tibetans running around the lobby with Tibetan flags in hand. [emphasis added]
What a lovely picture that makes -- tourism workers in democratic Taiwan reduced to acting as paid goons of the Chinese Communist Party.
"Room service? This is the C.C.P. delegation. Someone here spotted a cockroach and a Tibetan on the premises. Would you kindly send somebody up to remove them?"
(Operating under the theory that "no publicity is bad publicity", thugs in the employ of Taipei's Grand Hotel set upon an unarmed Tibetan dissident in full view of press photographers. Image from the Taipei Times.)
But the hotel's antics were was all for nothing, because when police arrived, they took one look at the rental contract and admitted the Tibetans had a point. After which management conceded, grudgingly allowing the press conference to go forward . . . in a different room in the hotel.
Heaven forbid anyone should ever label Michael Chen, manager of Taipei's Grand Hotel, a collaborator.
But one really does have to wonder at the new paint job he's given the place . . .
UPDATE (May 24/11): Taiwan's premier communist-funded newspaper, The China Post, spikes the story.