Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said yesterday that he has accepted an invitation from the International Bartenders Association to visit Beijing next month to watch a world bartending competition there.
Hsieh, an influential member of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said he has informed the association that he is willing to go if the required procedures, including flight and hotel arrangements, can be completed without any glitches.
Saying that “October is a sensitive month” since it is close to when the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress — in which a leadership changeover is expected — is scheduled to take place, Hsieh added that “for a person like me now may not be the best time to visit. Maybe it will be too much trouble.”
Citing the peak travel season of China’s Golden Week holiday, which begins around Oct. 1, Hsieh added there is also the question of flight and hotel availability. The matter is to become more certain in two or three days, he said in response to media inquiries at a tea party held by the DPP celebrating its 26th founding anniversary.
If Hsieh makes the trip, he would be the first former DPP premier to visit China.
Hsieh, who served as premier between May 2005 and January 2006 in former president Chen Shui-bian’s (陳水扁) administration, has long been a devoted supporter of the Kaohsiung-based Bartenders Association. He once traveled to Germany for an international bartending contest to show his support for the Taiwanese competitors.
However, Hsieh’s possible China trip has drawn mixed reactions from his party.
Koo Kwang-ming (辜寬敏), a former presidential adviser and a veteran Taiwan independence advocate, backed the trip, saying Hsieh should have made the trip a long time ago “because China is a very important rival.”
Former DPP Taipei Chapter chairman Huang Ching-lin (黃慶林) said “it is OK to be on friendly terms with China, but not to pay ‘tribute’ at this sensitive moment.”
Former DPP chairman Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文) also voiced his opposition to the planned visit. As Hsieh had once broached the notion of “constitutional one China (憲法一中),” Yao said he felt uneasy about Hsieh visiting Beijing.
The essence of Hsieh’s concept of “constitutional one China” purported that until the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution is amended, the DPP must acknowledge the ROC Constitution, although it is seriously flawed.
At the DPP anniversary party, Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), who also once served as premier during the former DPP administration, said that while he supports increased interaction with China, the party should uphold its core values and should never abandon them simply for improving ties with Beijing.
According to DPP spokesperson Wang Ming-sheng (王閔生), the party has no particular restriction on party members planning trips to China, adding that party regulations stipulate only that members need to give prior notification to party headquarters on their planned China trips.