cross-strait talks

Tensions in Taiwan Rise as China’s Zhang Zhijun Arrives in Taipei

Zhang Zhijun, Minister of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, arrived this morning at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport. This is the first ministerial-level visit of a mainland official on the island. During his four-day visit he will be meeting his Taiwan counterpart, Wang Yuqi ( 王郁琦), as well as “experts, college students, farmers, fishermen, members of minority groups, religious people, businessmen [and] spouses from the mainland” to discuss with them mainland-Taiwan issues. 

While China’s privately owned newspapers such as the Nanfang Daily have not given much space to Zhang’s Taiwan visit, state-run media have highlighted it as a landmark event in cross-strait relations. “Against the noises and tricks trumpeting sentiment against the mainland and cross-Straits cooperation on the island,” writes China Daily, “may Zhang’s visit clear confusions and boost mutual trust between the two sides“. 

Zhang’s visit is seen by the Chinese Communist Party and Taiwan’s Guomindang as a follow-up to the historic meeting between Zhang and Wang Yuqi in mainland China in February this year. That was the first official meeting between the two sides after the end of the Civil War in 1949 and the retreat of Chiang Kai-shek’s forces to Taiwan. 

Chinese media are trying to present a harmonious picture. CCTV stated that Zhang Zhijun was welcomed by Taiwan’s people after his arrival at Taoyuan Airport. 

Yet, harmony is not the right word to describe the reaction of the Taiwanese public to Zhang’s visit. It is impossible to estimate how the majority of Taiwanese feel about the visit and whether they are at all interested in it. But there are certainly many groups and organisations that are voicing their opposition to closer China-Taiwan ties. 

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Before noon pro-China and anti-China groups gathered at Taoyuan Airport, the first to welcome Zhang Zhijun, the latter to protest against China’s influence on Taiwan. Members of Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU), a pro-independence party, raised banners directed against Zhang Zhijun and undemocratic cross-strait policies: “Zhang Zhijun, go back to China!” (張志軍滾回中國), “The future of Taiwan will be decided by the Taiwanese people” (台灣前途由台灣人決定). Pro-independence groups have also launched a Facebook page called “We decide our own future“. According to Liberty Times Net, individuals who are believed to be members of Taiwan’s triads threatened and even beat TSU protesters. The thugs managed to escape. The victims of the assault claimed the police didn’t do enough to protect them and seize the culprits. 
(source: Wikipedia)
Outside the airport, pro-China groups were waving flags of the PRC and installed banners with slogans such as “Compatriots on both sides of the strait are Chinese“(兩岸同胞都是中國人), and “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China” (台灣是中國不可分割的一部分). 

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Yesterday night, pro-democracy activists, among them Lin Feifan, a leader of the Sunflower Student Movement, gathered at Novotel, a 5-star hotel near Taoyuan Airport. However, this morning the hotel staff broke into their room and forced them to leave the building. The scene was recorded by one of the activists and soon went viral. The hotel management was accused of having evicted the activists because they were planning actions of protest against Zhang Zhijun.

However, in the afternoon Novotel issued a statement explaining that “today’s event is related to the fact that the number of people staying in the said room did not correspond to the number of people who had checked in, according to the hotels records. The guests who rented that room had been seen walking on the fire escape, in the main hall, and coming in and out of the building many times during the night. In view of the hotel’s regulations and after taking into consideration the security of our guests, we made several attempts to talk to them, but they gave us no reply“. According to the hotel, the staff asked the activists to show them their passports, but they refused. The video shot by the activists seems to confirm the hotel’s version.

Zhang Zhijun’s visit, far from being the proof of improving cross-strait relations, highlights the dangers of a CCP-Guomindang agreement. 


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