Taiwan beefs up security for China envoy
TAIPEI: Taiwan on Sunday stepped up security for a top negotiator from the Chinese mainland after pro-independence groups threatened to follow him "every step of the way" during his visit to the island this week.
Chen Yunlin, the head of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, is due to arrive Monday and officials want to avoid a repetition of his previous visit, when protesters prevented him leaving his hotel.
"The Taipei city police authorities have set up a contingency command for the task" of protecting Chen, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity, declining to provide details of the deployment.
Dozens of policemen were seen standing guard and increasing patrols in and around Taipei's Grand Hotel, where Chen will be staying until Wednesday.
Police have also deployed barbed wire coils that can be unravelled swiftly around the hotel, to provide a security cordon.
Local media have reported that police plan to mobilise up to 2,000 officers for Chen's visit, sparking strong criticism from the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
"Tightening security for Chen... is simply aimed to please China and Chen," DPP spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang said.
In late 2008 chaotic street demonstrations confined Chen to his hotel for much of his visit, embarrassing Taipei at a time when it was working towards improving ties with Beijing.
Radical independence groups, opposed to Beijing's insistence that Taiwan forms part of its territory, have pledged to follow Chen "every step of the way," and have already shown their anger in a series of protests.
Chen is scheduled to meet Chiang Pin-kung on Tuesday. Each represents an organisation in charge of civil exchanges between Beijing and Taipei in the absence of official contact.
The talks will focus on epidemic-control measures and joint research and development of medicines, herbal medicines and emergency treatment, with Chen expected to return to the mainland on Wednesday. -Afp