China Signals Patience in Goal of Uniting With Self-Ruled Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan (TheStreet) -- The first-ever visit by a ranking Beijing official to Taiwan, a democratic island that his government wants as its own someday, was supposed to move the two sides toward China's unification goal.

But when the minister of China's Taiwan Affairs Office traveled last week to the place he's in charge of, he made few strong statements, listening more than he talked. He kept clear of protesters until Friday night when one group splashed paint on his bodyguards.

"Seeing the spray of paint at the Zhang group, I think I underestimated the violence by individuals," says Leonard Chu, China a studies professor retired from National Chengchi University in Taipei.

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Word around Taiwan is that Beijing sent the visitor, Zhang Zhijun, to analyze that contempt for China and leave a good impression rather than forge ahead with a new initiative to improve relations and then see it shellacked by fresh opposition.

Because hostility remains in Taiwan, Beijing's goal of peaceful unification with the self-ruled, ethnic Chinese island will extend past whatever its private timetable says and Chinese leaders are pragmatic enough to allow more time.

China's increased patience will bring no change to business, including multinationals active on both sides, but will delay new tie-ups that could make investment easier.

Taiwan's biggest banks such as Cathay Financial (CHYYY) and Mega International Commercial Bank  are in China but need more legal clearance to expand. Shippers such as FedEx  (FDX) and UPS  (UPS) work both sides and would get more orders if two-way trade grew past $124 billion last year. China is Taiwan's top trading partner.

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