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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid