Chinese official defends Taiwan trip
A TOP Shanghai official yesterday defended his controversial visit to Taiwan as “open and transparent” as protesters burnt his photo and accused him of promoting the island’s unification with China.
Sha Hailin, a standing committee member of the Communist Party in the city and head of the United Front Work Department there, arrived in Taipei on August 22 for a forum on municipal exchanges.
He is the highest-level mainlander to visit since cross-strait ties worsened under Taiwan’s new government.
“Expel Sha Hailin!” about 100 angry protesters shouted outside a hotel where the forum is taking place, tearing down and burning photos of Mr Sha and Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je.
Protesters had also rallied at an airport and other locations Mr Sha visited, shouting slogans against communism and for independence for Taiwan.
“For my visit ... there is no ‘secret deal’ as some people claim. Everything is open and transparent,” Mr Sha said in response to the protests.
“The journey for peaceful development, mutual understanding, respect and cooperation between the two sides will not be smooth sailing.”
Relations with China have grown increasing frosty since Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party won the island’s presidency in January. Beijing is highly suspicious of Ms Tsai because her party is traditionally pro-independence and has warned her against any attempt at a formal breakaway.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office saidit had suspended official contacts with Taipei after Ms Tsai’s government,
which took office in May, failed to accept the “one China” principle as expected.
Mr Sha reiterated that “one China” was the basis for major progress in ties under Taiwan’s previous Kuomintang government. He praised Mr Ko for “openly expressing his understanding and respect” of it. –
Pro-Taiwan independent activists burn pictures of visiting Sha Hailin, a top Chinese official, outside the 2016 Taipei-Shanghai Forum venue during the opening ceremony in Taipei yesterday.