Cross-strait talks in Taiwan marred by brawl

Cross-strait talks in Taiwan marred by brawl
Pro-China activists (in black shirts) fight with pro-Taiwan activists (in yellow vest) as police officers attempt to stop them during a meeting between Zhang Zhijun, director of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, and Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council chairman Andrew Hsia in Kinmen, Taiwan's offshore island.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Violent scuffles between protesters of various splinter parties broke out yesterday on the offshore island of Kinmen as China and Taiwan continued official government-to-government negotiations on a variety of issues including the proposal that Taiwan serve as a transportation hub for Chinese travelers.

In the aftermath of the scuffles, five were sent to the hospital and one man was apprehended by the Kinmen police. Police arrested a man surnamed Wu and are following up on the whereabouts of three of his associates.

The meeting between Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council head Andrew Hsia and the head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office Zhang Zhijun, which concludes tomorrow, was not affected by the protests.

Hub Proposal Could Start Mid-2015

The meeting between heads of the MAC and TAO proceeded in the afternoon as planned, with each side affirming the "1992 Consensus" as the basis of bilateral talks. While Hsia highlighted the "differing interpretations of One China," his mainland counterpart emphasised his nation's opposition to Taiwan independence.

Although both sides have met previously, it was the first face-to-face meeting between Hsia and Zhang.

According to an evening press release, the MAC indicated that a eighth round of dialogue would be scheduled to finalize an agreement for both sides to establish representative offices with consular services to aid their respective citizens including tourists, students and business personnel.

Later, TAO spokeswoman Ma Xiaoguang confirmed that the proposal to make Taiwan a travel hub for Chinese travelers would be initiated in the middle of 2015. She also confirmed that corporations on both sides would soon conclude a formal agreement for water resources to be provided by Kinmen's neighbouring Chinese city, Xiamen.

On the matter of Taiwan's membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Chairman Hsia reiterated past statements that a condition of Taiwan's joining would be that it be treated "with dignity and respect" while China said it welcomed Taiwan's participation in the newly formed body.

The two sides were originally scheduled to meet for talks this February, but the meeting was shelved after China unilaterally introduced the "M503 flight route" that Taiwan viewed as a provocation and safety risk to civilian and military aircraft flying on its side of the Taiwan Strait.

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