Delegation Begins Historic
Five-Day Visit to Taiwan
A Chinese delegation has begun a five-day visit to Taiwan aimed
economic ties between the two longtime rivals.
who heads China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan
Strait, arrived in Taipei Monday and is the highest-ranking
Chinese official to visit the island since the two sides split
during a civil war in 1949.
his 60-member delegation is expected to focus on finding ways
to cooperate in fighting the global financial crisis, and opening
cargo shipping links. They also will discuss expanding direct
passenger and cargo flights.
economic talks are crucial to building trust between the two
many in Taiwan welcome the warming of relations with China,
some fear Beijing may use the increased ties to exert more
political influence over the island.
supporters and other activists have already begun holding
rallies to protest Chen’s visit. Members of the opposition
Party plan large demonstrations throughout Chen’s stay.
Taiwanese pro-independence protesters attacked another Chinese
envoy who was visiting the island to attend an academic seminar.
The official later cut short his visit.
President Ma Ying-jeou has urged pro-independence advocates
to keep any protests legal and peaceful.
Mr. Ma has
said he will meet the delegation in his official capacity as
the island’s president. Unlike his DPP predecessor, President
Chen Shui-bian, Mr. Ma has taken a softer approach toward improving
ties with China, focusing on economic relations and side-stepping
the more difficult political issue of sovereignty.
the self-ruled island is part of its territory and has threatened
to attack Taiwan if it refuses to unify and seeks formal independence.
Taiwan and China do not have formal ties, but communicate with
one another through semi-official agencies.
visit this week, Chen will hold talks with his counterpart,
Chiang Pin-kung, the chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation.
He will leave Taiwan on Friday.