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China official met by protests, says respects Taiwan's choices

Published on Jun 27, 2014 6:20 PM
 
Pro-democracy activists (in red and orange vests) scuffle with police officers (in black and blue shirts) as Mr Zhang Zhijun, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, arrives in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan, on June 27, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

KAOHSIUNG (REUTERS) - China's top official in charge of relations with self-ruled Taiwan said on Friday that he understood and respected the choices of its people, as he was met by noisy protests in the traditionally anti-China far south of the island.

Mr Zhang Zhijun, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, is making the first trip by the head of the body to Taiwan, a visit marked by a highly unusual meeting with an opposition party stalwart and mayor of the pro-independence southern port of Kaohsiung, Ms Chen Chu.

Protesters waved placards deriding Mr Zhang as a "communist bandit".

Mr Zhang's unusual charm offensive in Taiwan stands in contrast to China's ties with several countries in Asia where territorial rows have flared over maritime boundaries. China has also denounced people in the former British colony of Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997, for pushing for greater democracy.

 
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