11/07/2008, 00.00
TAIWAN - CHINA
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"Historic" visit of Beijing envoy to Taiwan concludes

Trade agreements, a visit to President Ma, economic prospects. The voyage of Chen Yunlin had many positive aspects, although it was marked by many anti-Chinese demonstrations.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) - With an embrace of his counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung, Chinese negotiator Chen Yunlin this morning said goodbye to Taiwan after the visit that many defined as "historic." The five-day visit of the highest representative from Beijing to visit the island so far kicked off a variety of trade agreements, although many protests marked each step of the negotiator.

The more important agreements include an increase of direct flights and the opening of direct naval contact, which should increase commercial exchange between the two sides. Postal connections were also approved, and a commission for food safety.

Before leaving the hotel to go to the airport, Chen admitted that "the road ahead is still very long," and that "we expect to find this and that difficulty, but we will overcome those to fulfil expectations of compatriots of both sides [of the strait]." Yesterday, as the representative of Beijing, he also met with the Taiwanese president, which had not happened for 60 years.

Yesterday evening, 64 policemen were injured during a clash between security forces - defending the hotel where Chen was staying - and about a thousand demonstrators. Before his departure, Chen also thanked the Taiwanese police for protecting him during the anti-Chinese demonstrations.

The next meeting between Chinese and Taiwanese demonstrators is expected to take place within six months. Analysts attribute the thaw in relations to Ma Ying-jeou, Taiwan's president, who was elected last May, and whose new approach toward China is less conflictual than that of his predecessor, Chen Shuibian. But the reasons also include the serious financial crisis, which is affecting China and Taiwan. The next meeting of negotiators will also address financial problems.

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