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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid