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China envoy arrives Taiwan

world Updated: Nov 03, 2008 11:46 IST

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The highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Taiwan since the two sides split in 1949 arrived on the island on Monday for economic talks amid a warming of ties between the longtime rivals.

Chen Yunlin waved at Taiwanese officials who greeted him, and received a bouquet at the tarmac of Taipei's international airport after arriving on an Air China chartered plane with a large delegation of businesspeople.

A black limousine escorted by police cars then took him to the landmark Grand Hotel, where he is to stay during his five-day visit.

Before his arrival at the hotel, police dispersed a small group of protesters who unfurled a banner reading "Bandit Chen Yunlin Get Out" from the hotel's 7th floor.

Thousands of police were deployed at the airport and hotel, where they prepared barbed wire barricades with large nets to block eggs or other items thrown by protesters. A pro-independence group, Taiwan Society North, has offered cash rewards for protesters who hit Chen with eggs.

Chen, head of China's semiofficial Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, is to hold talks with his Taiwanese counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung, on cementing closer economic ties, especially transport links.

The pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party said it plans to greet Chen with protests and sit-ins, accusing China of using business deals to buy popular support for the island's political unification with Beijing.