China's first ministerial envoy to visit Taiwan since the end of the Chinese civil war was given a luke-warm welcome. Some protesters pelted his motorcade with paint.
Protesters succeeded in disrupting the visit of Zhang Zhijun, China's Taiwan Affairs Minister, on Saturday after throwing paint at his motorcade the previous evening. Zhang skipped visits planned for Saturday to a fishing harbor and a village in southern Taiwan. Other stops on his trip continued as planned.
China has considered Taiwan a part of its sovereign territory since the end of the Chinese civil war 65 years ago. Relations between China and the self-governing island of Taiwan improved in 2008 when economic agreements were signed and efforts to improve Taiwan's economy were implemented. Since then, 21 deals have been signed, leading to a sharp increase in two-way trade. China's stance is that Taiwan will eventually be reunited with China.
Not all Taiwanese are in favor of closer ties with Beijing, however, which led to protesters throwing paint at Zhang on Friday. He is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Taiwan since the end of the civil war.
Minor scuffles between Taiwanese in favor of reunification and those against it were reported on Saturday as well, even at sights where Zhang had cancelled his appearance. Some protesters have claimed they were being mistreated by police, which Chen Chu, a senior politician on the opposition Democratic Progressive Party – a party skeptical of closer ties with China – said she would investigate. She also urged restraint from the protesters.
"Throwing paint is not the way Taiwanese treat their guest," she was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying. "Taiwanese should be more confident and rationally express their different voices and opinions."
Zhang is scheduled to leave Taiwan later on Saturday.
mz/kms (AP, AFP)