October 27, 2008 / 8:25 AM / 9 years ago

Taiwan opposition plans fresh anti-China protests

<p>Demonstrators hold banners illustrated Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou and Chinese President Hu Jintao during an anti-China protest in Taipei October 25, 2008.Pichi Chuang</p>

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan opposition leaders on Monday planned a fresh wave of street protests to coincide with a visit next week by China's top negotiator as 7,000 police officers prepared to stand guard.

China claims sovereignty over self-ruled Taiwan and has threatened to use force, if necessary, to bring the island under its rule. But the two sides have established new trade and transit links since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in May.

Chen Yunlin, Beijing's top negotiator on Taiwan affairs, is expected to lead a 60-person delegation to the island for his first time from November 3 to 7 to discuss new direct flights and food safety, Taiwan officials said.

Last week, demonstrators in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan pushed to the ground a visiting Chinese official who had traveled there for an academic conference, outraging Beijing.

Demonstrators organised by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which wants Taiwan to seek formal independence from China and opposes Ma's friendly approach toward Beijing, are planning street action to protest against Chen's visit.

<p>Democratic Progessive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (C) chants slogans during an anti-China protest in Taipei October 25, 2008.Pichi Chuang</p>

"They can't sign any kind of political agreement," party spokesman Cheng Wen-tsang said. "If they sign any economic agreements, they must not add any political conditions."

About 7,000 police officers would be ready to handle any upsets, Taiwan National Police Agency Director-General Wang Cho-chiun told reporters on Monday.

"Of course they're to protect Chen Yunlin and to ensure public safety," police agency news official Wang Chi-chung said.

About half a million demonstrators flooded Taipei on Saturday, calling on Ma to resign and China to back off.

Beijing, for its part, sent Taiwan a rare letter of apology for any losses due to tainted milk powder from China, Taiwan's negotiating agency said on Monday. Taiwan has banned Chinese dairy products and pulled packaged goods from supermarket shelves since the milk powder scandal emerged in September.

China has claimed Taiwan since 1949, when Mao Zedong's Communists won the Chinese civil war and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT fled to the island.

Reporting by Ralph Jennings; editing by Roger Crabb

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