Taiwan opposition leader leaves for China amid violent protests
ABC News | April 25, 2005
Taiwan's opposition leader, Lien Chan, has arrived in China for what he calls a "peace journey".
Mr Lien is leading a 70-strong delegation from the Kuomintang, or Nationalist party.
He has been given a red-carpet welcome by Communist Party officials in the city of Nanjing.
His plane left from Taiwan's Chiang Kai-shek airport, as hundreds of pro-independence protesters opposed to the visit fought violent clashes with his supporters inside the airport.
Several people have been injured in the protests, in which eggs and stones were thrown, according to the AFP newsagency.
Hundreds more protesters from both sides have demonstrated outside the airport building, waving banners and shouting insults at each other.
Government supporters, angry over the opposition's engagement of the government in Beijing, held up placards saying "Lien Chan is selling Taiwan" and "Lien Chan get out".
Later this week, Mr Lien will travel to the capital, Beijing to meet with the Chinese president, Hu Jintao.
His eight-day visit will also take him to his birthplace place, Xian, and commercial centre of Shanghai.
On the eve of his trip, Mr Lien said Taiwan should adopt a fresh approach to relations with China.
"The Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party had severe conflicts in history that even led to a civil war," he said.
"But now cross-strait exchanges should no longer be hampered by the mindset of civil war."
Mr Lien's visit follows a "bridge-building" trip by his deputy last month, the party's first visit to China since 1949, when Taiwan split from the mainland.
Tension between the two sides has been high since China's parliament adopted an anti-secession law in March.
The legislation gives the Chinese military the legal basis to attack Taiwan if the island moves towards formal independence.