08/22/2016, 16.06
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Protests welcome Chinese communist leader’s visit to Taipei

A group of protesters organise “welcome” protest at Taipei airport for Sha Hailin, a member of the CCP Standing Committee and head of the United Front Department in Shanghai. He is the highest-ranking communist official to visit Taiwan since the new government led by Tsai Ing-wen took office. Doubts hover over the future of bilateral relations.

Taipei (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A group of pro-Taiwan independence activists demonstrated at Taipei airport this morning against the visit of a senior Chinese Communist Party official.

Sha Hailin, a standing committee member of the Communist Party and head of the United Front Work Department in Shanghai, arrived in Taiwan’s capital for an annual forum on municipal exchanges.

Waving banners and shouting, dozens of demonstrators slammed Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je for “selling out Taiwan”.

This is the first visit to the island by a mainland delegation since Tsai Ing-wen became president of Taiwan.

During the two terms of her predecessor of Tsai, nationalist Ma Ying-jeou, relations between Beijing and Taipei warmed up. Driven by trade and tourism, the relationship changed the status quo on the Taiwan Strait.

Mainland China has held back Taiwan’s claim and has boosted its trade with the island, becoming its main partner. For its part, Taiwan has improved its economy, but at the cost of its independence according to critics.

Some banners said “Expel propaganda communist, defend Taiwan’s sovereignty” and “Sha Hailin, get out!”

The protester scuffled briefly with policemen before they left the airport peacefully. Sha made no comment to reporters.

It is not clear what plans Tsai has for the difficult relationship with the mainland. She failed to accept publicly the ‘One China’ principle that has governed relations between the two sides.

In response to this, Beijing’s Taiwan Affairs Office suspended official contact with the new Taiwanese administration.

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