Hundreds of angry Taiwanese protested Tuesday as opposition leader Lien Chan left for a historic week-long visit to mainland China.

Opponents of Mr. Chan's trip clashed violently with supporters of the Nationalist Party leader, and threw eggs at riot policemen. They also held signs accusing Mr. Chan of betraying the island.

The trip marks the first time a Nationalist Party leader has visited the mainland since the end of the civil war in 1949. Mr. Lien says the goal of his visit is to reduce tensions between the mainland and Taiwan.

Last month, Beijing passed a law which legalizes military action if Taipei declares its independence.

Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian has eased his opposition to the visit Sunday, saying Mr. Lien could use the trip to explore the possibility of reconciliation with China.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.