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Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

Clashes mar Chinese Taiwan visit

Demonstrators fight police outside the Taipei hotel where Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin was staying on 7 November
Nearly 150 police officers were hurt in the clashes

Clashes between protesters and police in the Taiwanese capital Taipei over the visit of a Chinese envoy have left at least 150 people injured.

Street fights erupted as hundreds of protesters surrounded the hotel where the official was staying.

The envoy, Chen Yunlin, left Taiwan after conducting the highest-profile visit so far by a Chinese official.

A number of economic agreements were signed during the visit, which was plagued by near-constant protests.

Police equipped with water cannon struggled to keep stone-throwing protesters away from the hotel where Mr Chen was staying.

By Friday morning, 149 police officers had been injured, according to Taipei City Police Department. Local media report that dozens of demonstrators and journalists were also hurt.

Taiwan's Central News Agency says that Mr Chen was trapped in his hotel "for several hours until police were able to forcibly remove the protesters who had blocked the hotel exits".

The Chinese envoy eventually managed to leave Taiwan on a charter flight from the international airport.

Anger with president

The protesters are opposed to Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou's policy of forging closer ties with China.

Chinese envoy Chen Yunlin (left) and his Taiwanese counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung, wave goodbye to reporters before heading for the airport on 7 November
The envoy (left) was China's most senior visitor in decades

When Mr Chen met the Taiwanese leader on Wednesday, he failed to use his title "president", in line with Beijing's policy of not recognising Taiwanese independence though the two entities have been separately governed since 1949.

Mr Ma was later quoted as saying by the Taipei Times: "[Did] I have to wring his neck and say: 'I won't let you go back to China if you don't call me President Ma?' Do I need to do that? It's unnecessary."

But some angry protesters called for Mr Ma to resign.

Chang Bang-ni, a 45-year-old businesswoman, said the Chinese envoy had snubbed Taiwan by not calling its leader by his title.

"This shows that China is only treating Taiwan like a local government," he told The Associated Press.

Mass protests against Mr Ma's pro-China policies have been on going since August.

They have been led by the main opposition, the Democratic Progressive Party, which while in government antagonised Beijing with a pro-independence agenda.

Recent relations soured two months ago when Taiwan was affected by tainted milk products from China, and a number of people were taken ill.



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