China’s top negotiator plans to visit south this month: report


TAIPEI — The top Chinese negotiator on Taiwan is planning a visit this month to the southern part of the island, a stronghold of pro-independence sentiments, officials and the media said yesterday.

Chen Yunlin, head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, aims to tour several cities in the south in late February to promote trade, the United Evening News quoted unnamed sources as saying.

His planned stops include Kaohsiung and Tainan, where anti-China feelings remain strong and relevant security protection for Chen and an accompanying business delegation are being discussed, it said.

An official at the association’s Taiwanese counterpart Straits Exchange Foundation confirmed that Chen was scheduled to visit the island later this month although details of the trip were yet to be finalized.

Chen’s previous visits to Taiwan had sparked protests from those who feared that closer ties with the mainland could erode the island’s de facto sovereignty.

In the absence of official contacts between the two sides, Chen’s semi-official association is authorized by Beijing to handle civilian exchanges with Taiwan.

China still claims Taiwan as part of its territory awaiting unification, by force if necessary, though the two sides have been governed separately since the end of a civil war in 1949.

However, ties have improved markedly since Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.