Asia

Chinese envoy visits Taiwan amid protests

  • Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je, left, and Sha Hailin, head of the United Front Work Department of Chinese Communist Party's Shanghai Municipal Committee, toast at the dinner party on the eve of Taipei-Shanghai forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, August 22, 2016. The Chinese envoy arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a city-to-city dialogue, amid a chill in relations between the sides following the inauguration of the island's independence-leaning president, Tsai ing-wen, in June. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)

    Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je, left, and Sha Hailin, head of the United Front Work Department of Chinese Communist Party's Shanghai Municipal Committee, toast at the dinner party on the eve of Taipei-Shanghai forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, August 22, 2016. The Chinese envoy arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a city-to-city dialogue, amid a chill in relations between the sides following the inauguration of the island's independence-leaning president, Tsai ing-wen, in June. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)  (The Associated Press)

  • Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je, left, and Sha Hailin, head of the United Front Work Department of Chinese Communist Party's Shanghai Municipal Committee, pose together after exchanging gifts at the dinner party on the eve of Taipei-Shanghai forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, August 22, 2016. The Chinese envoy arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a city-to-city dialogue, amid a chill in relations between the sides following the inauguration of the island's independence-leaning president, Tsai ing-wen, in June. (AP Photo/ Chiang Ying-ying)

    Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je, left, and Sha Hailin, head of the United Front Work Department of Chinese Communist Party's Shanghai Municipal Committee, pose together after exchanging gifts at the dinner party on the eve of Taipei-Shanghai forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, August 22, 2016. The Chinese envoy arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a city-to-city dialogue, amid a chill in relations between the sides following the inauguration of the island's independence-leaning president, Tsai ing-wen, in June. (AP Photo/ Chiang Ying-ying)  (The Associated Press)

  • A protester shouts and waves placards written with a slogan reading ''One Taiwan, One China'' outside the venue of a dinner party held by Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je for Sha Hailin, head of the United Front Work Department of Chinese Communist Party's Shanghai Municipal Committee, on the eve of Taipei-Shanghai forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. The Chinese envoy arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a city-to-city dialogue, amid a chill in relations between the sides following the inauguration of the island's independence-leaning president, Tsai ing-wen, in June. (AP Photo/ Chiang Ying-ying)

    A protester shouts and waves placards written with a slogan reading ''One Taiwan, One China'' outside the venue of a dinner party held by Taipei Mayor Ke Wen-je for Sha Hailin, head of the United Front Work Department of Chinese Communist Party's Shanghai Municipal Committee, on the eve of Taipei-Shanghai forum in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016. The Chinese envoy arrived in Taiwan on Monday for a city-to-city dialogue, amid a chill in relations between the sides following the inauguration of the island's independence-leaning president, Tsai ing-wen, in June. (AP Photo/ Chiang Ying-ying)  (The Associated Press)

A Chinese envoy is visiting Taipei for city-to-city dialogue amid frosty relations between the sides following the election of Taiwan's new pro-independence government in January.

The visit by Shanghai Communist Party official Sha Hailin marks a rare point of direct contact between the island and China following Beijing's June announcement that it was freezing contacts between the bodies responsible for communication between them.

Sha heads the Chinese financial hub's United Front Work Department, a body generally used in outreach to minority groups and entities not under the direct control of the ruling Communist Party.

About a dozen politicians from pro-independence parties staged an airport protest over Sha's arrival, saying his rank was insufficient to merit a meeting with Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je.

China claims Taiwan as its own territory.