TAIPEI – A Chinese envoy on a historic visit to Taiwan on Saturday canceled two events after protesters opposed to closer ties with Beijing threw paint on his motorcade.
China’s Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun skipped visits to a fishing harbor and another village in southern Taiwan, but kept the rest of his schedule despite the continuing protests.
Zhang’s visit marks the first time a ministerial-level Chinese official has visited the self-governing island since the end of the Chinese civil war 65 years ago. China considers Taiwan a renegade province, part of its sovereign territory, and has pledged to push for reunification.
Many on the island, however, are against closer ties with the mainland, and protesters managed to splash paint on Zhang’s motorcade Friday night.
The minister escaped unharmed and was scheduled to return home Saturday night.
Dialogue between China and Taiwan opened in 2008 after Beijing set aside its military threat to sign economic agreements with Taipei, and Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou agreed to put off political issues to build trust and improve the island’s economy.
The two sides have signed 21 deals, boosting two-way trade to $124.4 billion last year and bringing in about 3 million mainland tourists, who were once all but banned.