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.
Reuters

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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs