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Taiwan

China strives to patch up relations with Taiwan

Angry protests greet top minister's visit to Taipei

AFP, Taipei

AFP, Taipei

Updated: June 24, 2014 09:44 PM GMT
China strives to patch up relations with Taiwan

Protesters were visible from the airport to his hotel as minister Zhang Zhijun arrived in Taiwan. Picture: AFP/William West

China's most senior official ever to visit Taiwan arrived on the island Wednesday to discuss setting up liaison offices, sparking angry confrontations between pro-independence protesters and riot police.

The four-day visit by Zhang Zhijun, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office, comes as a further sign of warming ties between the former bitter rivals, despite vocal opposition from those opposed to forging closer ties with Beijing.

Zhang, who holds minister-level status, arrived at Taoyuan airport in the north of this island around noon and was due to meet his Taiwanese counterpart Wang Yu-chi, chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, later in the day.

The two previously met in China's eastern city of Nanjing in February in the first government-to-government talks since Taiwan and the mainland split 65 years ago after a brutal civil war.

Wednesday's visit marks the most senior-level talks between the two sides to take place in Taiwan.

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Ahead of the discussions, demonstrators tried to break through security barriers outside the hotel where Wang and Zhang were to meet and clashed with riot police.

Dozens of pro-independence and pro-unification activists also clashed in the airport.

Analysts say the meeting represents a further step towards normalising ties between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The two sides are still technically at war despite tensions easing markedly since 2008 when Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang came to power.

Moves by Ma's administration to further embrace China have also been hampered by massive student-led protests in Taipei earlier this year.

Despite improved relations, Beijing opposes the island participating in international organisations as a sovereign state and considers Taiwan to be a part of China awaiting reunification, by force if necessary. AFP

 

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