Date
17 December 2017
Zhang Zhijun is the first head of a mainland body in charge of Taiwan affairs to visit the island. Photo: Bloomberg
Zhang Zhijun is the first head of a mainland body in charge of Taiwan affairs to visit the island. Photo: Bloomberg

Top official looks to charm Taiwan in landmark visit

A top Chinese official will travel to Taiwan this week in a landmark visit intended to woo Taiwanese who remain suspicious about a pending cross-strait trade pact.

Zhang Zhijun, director of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, will also meet with a senior official from the pro-independence camp. He will be the first head of the cross-strait body to visit the island.

The visit from Wednesday to Saturday will focus on the poorer middle and southern sections of Taiwan which have benefited less from trade with China and where pro-independence sentiment runs deep, Reuters reported Wednesday.

China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has never ruled out the use of force to bring the island under its control but relations have improved markedly since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

The charm offensive with Taiwan is in contrast to Beijing’s ties with several countries in Asia where bitter territorial rows have flared over maritime boundaries.

China has also recently criticized Hong Kong, a special administrative region, where hundreds of thousands have been pushing for greater democracy.

Zhang’s main talks in Taipei will be with Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Minister Wang Yu-chi. He will not meet Ma, who has never held talks with senior Chinese officials as president.

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