Taiwan politician pays fine for pushing Chinese envoy

TAIPEI, June 22, 2010 (AFP) - A Taiwanese politician was fined 122,000 Taiwan dollars (3,812 US) Tuesday after he was convicted of pushing a Chinese envoy to the ground in an incident that irked Beijing, court officials said.

Wang Ting-yu, a city councillor from the southern Tainan city, was convicted in September last year and sentenced to a four-month jail term for assaulting in 2008 the Chinese official Zhang Mingqing.

Wang had pleaded not guilty but his appeal was rejected by the High Court last month. Yet he was allowed, as an alternative to jail, to pay a fine of 1,000 Taiwan dollars daily for four months.

He paid the fine Tuesday to close the case.

The incident happened when Zhang, an official of China's quasi-official Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, was visiting Tainan, a stronghold of the anti-China opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), to which Wang is affiliated.

The incident was caught on camera and triggered fury in Beijing, with the Chinese government calling for "severe punishment" for those found guilty.

The incident came at a time when Taiwan, under the leadership of Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou, is seeking to improve relations with China.

In the absence of official contacts between the two sides, Zhang's semi-official association is authorised by Beijing to handle civilian exchanges with Taiwan.

China and Taiwan split in 1949 following a civil war, but Beijing regards the island as part of its territory awaiting reunification, by force if necessary.