China envoy arrives Taiwan for economic talks

By Debby Wu

Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan — The highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Taiwan since the two sides split in 1949 called for dialogue with the island, saying it will be the only way to help enhance peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Chen Yunlin waved at Taiwanese officials who greeted him and received a bouquet at the tarmac of Taipei’s international airport after arriving on an Air China chartered plane with a large delegation of businesspeople.

A black limousine escorted by police cars then took him to the landmark Grand Hotel, where he is to stay during his five-day visit.


In a brief speech at the hotel lobby, Chen urged both sides to treasure their recent warming of ties.

"This visit has not come easily," he said. "Only through talks can we build trust and only through cooperation can we create a win-win economic situation."

Chen, who heads the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, is to hold talks with his Taiwanese counterpart Chiang Pin-kung on cementing closer economic ties, especially transport links.

Chen’s visit is seen as a direct result of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s efforts since he took office in May to improve ties and end decades of political rivalry.

Chiang called Chen’s visit "a historic moment in cross-Strait exchanges that we’ve waited for 60 years."

Before Chen’s arrival at the hotel, police dispersed a small group of protesters who unfurled a banner reading "Bandit Chen Yunlin Get Out" from the hotel’s 7th floor.

Thousands of police were deployed at the airport and hotel, where they prepared barbed wire barricades with large nets to block eggs or other items thrown by protesters. A pro-independence group, Taiwan Society North, has offered cash rewards for protesters who hit Chen with eggs.

The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party said it plans to greet Chen with protests and sit-ins, accusing China of using business deals to buy popular support for the island’s political unification with Beijing.


In a letter published in major Taiwanese newspapers Monday, DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen said the opposition protests are aimed at preventing Ma’s administration from tilting too much toward China.

"If things keep on like this, Taiwan’s economy will growingly rely fully on China," she said. "In the not too distant future, would Taiwan still keep its sovereignty? Would Taiwanese get other options other than accepting unification?"

Chen’s deputy, Zhang Mingqing, was attacked and thrown to the ground by protesters during an informal visit to the southern Taiwanese city of Tainan on Oct. 20, injuring him slightly and prompting him to leave two days ahead of his scheduled departure.

China still claims the self-ruled island as a part of its territory and has said that any move toward formal independence would be met with force.

Ma has repeatedly tried to assure the public that Taiwan’s sovereignty will not be compromised. He has said he understands the protesters’ concerns and will relay "the voice of the Taiwanese public" during his talks with Chen.

"It is not such a bad thing to let Chen Yunlin understand Taiwanese views ... but (any protests) must be legal and peaceful," Ma was quoted as saying by Sunday’s China Times, a leading Taiwanese daily.

He noted the 1,300 missiles pointed at Taiwan and said China should ease its military threat against Taiwan.

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