Despite rowdy protest on the streets of Taipei,
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has met with the Chinese envoy who signed historic
cross-strait transportation deals earlier this week. Thibault Worth reports from
meeting Thursday took place five hours earlier than expected, to dodge
protesters angry about the visit by Chen Yunlin, the chairman of the Association
for Relations Across the Taiwan Straight. But it lasted only five minutes.
Taiwan President Ma praises the landmark deal Chen signed Tuesday to
increases transportation links between the island and mainland China. Ma adds,
however, that significant differences remain between the two sides regarding
Taiwan's security and international status.
The meeting, while brief, was
the highest-level contact between a Taiwan president and an official from the
mainland government in nearly 60 years.
During the meeting, Chen notably
did not refer to Mr. Ma by his title of president. Taiwan and China split in
1949 after a civil war, and Beijing does not recognize Taiwan's democratically
Despite the surprise meeting time, protesters
thronged the streets of Taipei through most of the day chanting, "Taiwan is my
country" and other slogans. Many Taiwanese fear that closer ties with China may
come at the expense of Taiwan's sovereignty. Protesters were also angry that
Chen failed to call his host, "President Ma."
Protesters have dogged Chen
since he arrived in Taiwan on Monday. On Wednesday night, nearly a thousand
protesters trapped Chen inside a hotel while he was attending a dinner
China, which is ruled by the Communist Party, claims sovereignty
over Taiwan. The Beijing government repeatedly has said the island will be
reunited with the mainland, by force, if necessary.
residents favor formal independence from the mainland, but Mr. Ma's
administration favors greater economic integration.