Chinese envoy cuts short Taiwan trip after being assaulted

October 22nd, 2008 - 4:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, Oct 22 (DPA) A senior Chinese official cut short his Taiwan visit and returned to China Wednesday, after he was shoved to the ground by pro-independence activists during a visit to a temple the previous day.”I feel bad that police have to deploy so much manpower to protect my safety and I don’t think I should cause them so much trouble, but the public will tell right from wrong,” said Zhang Mingqing, vice chairman of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), at the airport.

Zhang, the second-highest ranking negotiator in dealing with Taiwan, was assaulted a mob during a sightseeing visit in the southern city of Tainan, a base of pro-independence supporters. He arrived in Taiwan Sunday for an academic conference, and planned to leave the island Saturday.

Zhang said he believed the violent incident was caused by a few people, who did not represent the population of Tainan nor the 23 million Taiwanese on the island.

Police authorities, who apologized for failing to keep Zhang safe and demoted the police commissioner in Tainan, assigned more than 270 officers to protect him to prevent a similar incident from occurring.

Shouting “Taiwan is not a part of China,” dozens of activists also attempted to heckle Zhang at the airport, but all were forcibly removed.

Tuesday’s attack shocked leaders from both Taipei and Beijing, with Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan swiftly condemning the violence.

Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) under China’s State Council and Zhang’s ARATS issued separated statements in condemning the act and demanded punishment of the guilty party and full protection for Zhang.

Zhang, who came to Taiwan in his capacity as dean of Xiamen University’s School of Journalism and Communications, has been a controversial figure in Taiwan over his previous remarks as TAO spokesman warning Taiwan against splitting from China.

ARATS Chairman Chen Yunlin, China’s top negotiator with the island, is tipped to lead a delegation in the talks after the historic June round in Beijing, during which the two sides signed deals for weekend charter flights and tourism cooperation.

Lai Shin-yuan, chairwoman of the Mainland Affairs Council, the Taiwan counterpart to the TAO, said she believed the talks would proceed because both sides “already institutionalized bilateral negotiations.”

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