News / Asia

China Official Cancels Events in Taiwan Amid Violent Protests

Security personnel protect Zhang Zhijun (C, in white shirt), director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, with bullet-proof suitcases after anti-China protesters attempted to pour white paint on him in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, June 27, 2014.
Security personnel protect Zhang Zhijun (C, in white shirt), director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, with bullet-proof suitcases after anti-China protesters attempted to pour white paint on him in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, June 27, 2014.

China's top official in charge of relations with Taiwan has returned to Beijing, hailing his visit to the self-ruled island as "historic", despite violent protests that forced him to cancel several meetings.

The visit by Zhang Zhijun, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, marked the first such trip by such a senior mainland official in 65 years since the Nationalists fled after losing a civil war to China's Communists in 1949.

Throughout his four-day tour of the island, Zhang was greeted by protesters, including at the high-speed train station in the pro-independence southern port of Kaohsiung on Friday. There hundreds of demonstrators gathered, some waving placards reading "Communist Zhang Zhijun, get the hell back to China".

Protesters in the city became violent and at one point attempted to pour white paint on Zhang, but missed him and instead splashed security staff. Some protesters were bloodied after scuffles with police.

An official at Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council told Reuters by phone that three of Zhang's public appearances had been called off on Saturday following the protests.

"The public appearances were canceled due to twists and turns," the official who was not authorized to speak to media, said.

One of the events was canceled due to security concerns for Zhang at a fair held at a well-known temple in Kaohsiung, the official said.

Hundreds of pro-independence banner-toting demonstrators were at the Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei on Saturday as Zhang prepared to depart for the mainland.

The trip was seen as part of China's charm offensive in Taiwan, where many remain suspicious about a pending trade pact and autocratic China's political designs for the democratically governed island.

Speaking to state media after arriving back in Beijing on Saturday, Zhang glossed over the protests and hailed the trip a success.

"This visit received an enthusiastic welcome from all circles and peoples in Taiwan. Despite differing voices, the popular will is extremely clear," the official Xinhua news agency cited Zhang as saying.

"Everyone universally believes that peaceful development of cross-strait relations is the correct path and brings real benefits to people on both sides. Everyone believes we should continue down this path," he said.

"Cautiously optimistic"

Andrew Yang, a political science professor at National Sun Yat-sen University in Taiwan, said the visit's awkward moments were not likely to alter the calculus between China and Taiwan.

"Something like the protests or paint pouring should be in his [Zhang's] anticipations. I don't think this incident will impact cross-strait relations or slow down cross-strait exchanges," Yang said.

"The agreements that Zhang and his Taiwanese counterpart have reached this time should be implemented at the working levels as planned. I'm cautiously optimistic about ties across the Taiwan Strait," he said.

China claims Taiwan as its own, to be taken by force if necessary, though the two have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces fled to the island following the civil war.

Taiwan's pride in its democracy, ushered in during the 1980s, helps reinforce the unwillingness of many to be absorbed politically by China.

Many Taiwanese look with nervousness, if not fear, at China, where the ruling Communist Party has rebuffed calls for political liberalization.

Their concerns are not just politically motivated. The once heavily industrialized Kaohsiung has lost many of its companies and factories to China, drawn away by China's massive workforce and low manufacturing costs, and it has struggled economically in recent years.

Protesters occupied Taiwan's parliament and mounted mass demonstrations over three weeks starting in March in anger at a pending trade pact that will open various sectors in both economies.

The opposition calls the pact a threat to Taiwan's industry and fears it could open the door to Chinese political influence.

Zhang did not meet with Taiwan's China-friendly president, Ma Ying-jeou, who has never held talks with senior Chinese officials since taking office in 2008.

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs