Zhang Zhijun, China’s top official in charge of Taiwan affairs, began a four-day trip to the island on Wednesday, aiming to improve ties between the two sides.
As he stepped out of the aircraft after his arrival, Zhang — who is the first head of the mainland’s Taiwan Affairs Office to visit Taiwan — deployed the Taiwanese dialect for his first words in a gesture of good faith.
Wang Yu-chi, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Minister, welcomed the visit but used the occasion to send a message to China of Taiwan people’s feelings on cross-strait issues, according to Ming Pao Daily.
Referring to Beijing’s earlier comments that “any issue related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be decided by all Chinese people”, Wang said the mainland government should listen to Taiwan people’s voice, understand their way of living and respect their choices.
Zhang did not respond directly to Wang’s remarks, which came ahead of their meeting, merely saying that both sides should jointly overcome problems and let the cross-strait relationship develop peacefully, the report said.
Chang Wu-ueh, dean of the Graduate Institute of China Studies at Taipei-based Tamkang University, was quoted as saying that the issue of Taiwan’s future cannot be avoided during the Zhang visit and that the mainland government should use its wisdom to contemplate on how to respond.
It is worth noting that Zhang will not set foot in Taiwan’s capital Taipei during the current trip. He will instead spend most of his time visiting New Taipei city, Taichung and Kaohsiung and the central Changhua prefecture. The itinerary shows Zhang’s main purpose in his visit is to make contact with people from all walks of life in Taiwan.
Meanwhile, some demonstrators tussled with police and rival protesters at the Taoyuan International Airport when Zhang arrived in Taiwan on Wednesday, Taipei Times reported.
Over 100 protesters also gathered outside the hotel where the Zhang-Wang meeting was held, shouting slogans such as “Taiwan’s future is ours to decide”.
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