Chen Yunlin to steer clear of Tainan in visit

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 17 February, 2011, 12:00am

The mainland's top cross-strait negotiator, Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats) president Chen Yunlin, has decided to drop the Tainan leg of a six-day visit to Taiwan starting next week.

The decision came after pro-independence activists announced plans to stage protests in the southern city against Chen's visit.

Analysts said Chen, who has represented Beijing in talks with Taipei in six rounds of high-level dialogue since 2008, might want to avoid embarrassment, mindful of a violent protest that saw hundreds of members of Taiwan's pro-independence camp besiege the hotel where he was a dinner guest during his first visit to Taipei in late 2008.

Chen will lead a 40-member senior trade delegation to Taipei on Wednesday to attend a cross-strait trade seminar before heading to the south of the island on Thursday.

Hardcore pro-independence activists said on Tuesday they would 'make their voices known' to Chen while he was in southern Taiwan, especially during his stop in Tainan - the hometown of former Taiwanese president Chen Shui-bian, now in jail for corruption.

'We have prepared seven to eight plans to make our voices known to Chen Yunlin that Taiwan and China are two countries on each side of the Taiwan Strait,' Tainan city councillor Wang Ting-yu, a protest organiser, said on Tuesday.

He said Taiwanese people were vehemently opposed to cross-strait unification and the mainland's annexation of Taiwan. Wang was convicted by a district court of injuring Chen Yunlin's deputy Zhang Mingqing when he visited Tainan in 2008 for a cross-strait exchange.

Chen was not available for comment about the decision to cancel the visit to Tainan, but Taiwanese media and lawmakers said the move was understandable, given his previous experiences in Taiwan.

A Tainan municipal government spokesman said yesterday he had been informed by the Straits Exchange Foundation in Taipei, Arats' Taiwanese counterpart, that Chen would not visit Tainan.

Activists vowed yesterday to follow Chen to Kaohsiung and other southern cities to stage sporadic protests.

Back to business

The number of members of Chen Yunlin's high-powered delegation to Taiwan next week: 40