TAIPEI: Angry protesters tried to storm parliament in Taiwan and 27 were arrested at the airport today as leader Ma Ying-jeou headed to a historic summit in Singapore with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
There were also reports that three members of the anti-China Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) were escorted by police from a hostel in Singapore -- it is not clear whether they are under arrest.
Demonstrators say they will gather outside the presidential office in Taiwan in the afternoon as the summit gets under way.
The meeting will be the first between leaders of the two sides since their 1949 split following a civil war won by the Chinese Communists.
Xi and Ma will shake hands at a luxury hotel in Singapore around 3:00 pm (0700 GMT) before holding talks behind closed doors for an hour.
It is a deeply symbolic seal on a dramatic seven-year rapprochement under Ma following decades of hostility, but has provoked a backlash in Taiwan.
Closer ties with China have sparked fears over Beijing's growing influence with Ma's opponents accusing him of selling out Taiwan.
Although it is a self-ruling democracy with a fierce sense of its own identity, Taiwan has never formally declared independence from Beijing, which sees it as a renegade province to be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Overnight protesters tried to storm the heavily-guarded parliament building in Taipei carrying "Taiwan independence" banners, but were stopped by police, who said there were around 100 demonstrators. There were no arrests.
Protesters also gathered at Taipei's Songshan airport where Ma gave a brief address to reporters before boarding his flight today morning.
The demonstrators tried to burn images of the two leaders with slogans calling Xi "Chinese dictator" and Ma a "traitor" with 27 arrested after they tried to tried to push their way through a guarded side gate.
They included student leader Chen Wei-ting a key figure in last year's Sunflower Movement which occupied parliament for almost a month over a controversial trade pact with China.
Television footage showed Chen dragged into a police van while officers with riot shields scuffled with protesters.
"As a president who doesn't represent public opinion, Ma doesn't have the right to meet with the leader across the strait," one 35-year-old protester, also named Chen, told AFP.
A TSU spokesman in Taipei said legislative candidate Hsiao Ya-tan was "taken away by police" from a hostel in Singapore in the early morning, along with two of her assistants.