Taiwan media decry 'cover-up' over China police visit

TAIPEI, September 29, 2010 (AFP) - A Chinese vice minister for public security visited Taiwan this month but his trip was only revealed 10 days later, prompting local media to protest Wednesday about a "cover-up."

Chen Zhimin visited the island as the head of a 17-member delegation from September 13 to 18, Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau said in a statement on its website.

"This could be the first time in the nation's history that a visit by senior Chinese officials was covered up by Taiwan's own government agencies," the Taipei Times newspaper said.

The visiting Chinese delegation reached consensus with their hosts on several issues, including the need for improved cooperation on anti-terror activities, the bureau said.

According to the Taipei Times, the two sides decided to keep Chen's visit low profile because of his "sensitive post" and the timing ahead of crucial local elections in November.

"We had a tacit understanding... we weren't going to release this trip to the media because of the upcoming elections," the bureau's chief administrator Hsu Jui-shan told the paper.

"The request came from China, and as the host, we accepted."

Relations between Taiwan and China, which split at the end of a civil war in 1949, have improved dramatically since the island's voters elected Beijing-friendly Ma Ying-jeou as president in 2008.

However, many of Taiwan's voters still have concerns about closer relations with China, which has vowed reunification with the island, even if it means war.

Some observers have said that these fears could work against Ma's Kuomintang party during the November election, when new leaders will be elected for five key cities.