China officials visit Taiwan, first since pandemic
STORY: EDITORS PLEASE NOTE: CORRECTS NAME FROM “LIU XIAODONG” TO “LI XIAODONG” IN FIRST PARAGRAPH.
Taiwan's government this week allowed the trip of six officials, led by Li Xiaodong, deputy head of the Shanghai office of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, to attend the Lantern Festival in Taipei at the invitation of the city government.
A small group of around a dozen pro-Taiwan independence supporters protested his arrival outside the airport, shouting "Taiwan and China, separate countries" and "Chinese people, get out", while on the airport road another small group of pro-China supporters shouted their welcome.
China has refused to speak to Taiwan's government since President Tsai Ing-wen took office in 2016, believing she is a separatist. City-to-city exchanges had continued until interrupted by the pandemic.
Still, Tsai's administration has cautiously been trying to re-open less sensitive people-to-people links since it lifted pandemic-related border controls late last year, aiming to engender goodwill with China.