Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday announced the establishment of a China Affairs Committee, ending media speculation about the makeup of the committee by doubling as the committee’s convener.
Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), whose landmark visit to China last month made him the front-runner to lead the committee, expressed his support.
Su made the announcement, regarded as the DPP’s first step to formulate its new China policy and start anew its relations with Beijing after losing the January presidential election, at a press conference after the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.
After “extended deliberations,” Su said he gave up the original plan of having Hsieh as committee head and decided to assume responsibility himself because “it is the chairman’s responsibility to integrate different opinions in the party.”
The DPP’s views on Taiwan’s status and future remain unchanged because its party resolution on Taiwan’s future in 1999 has now become mainstream opinion among Taiwanese, Su said.
The comment was regarded as an attempt to reassure supporters that the party would not tilt toward Beijing in its attempts to prove to the public that it is capable of managing cross-strait relations.
However, because Chinese influence has been everywhere in Taiwan, the DPP has to respond with flexible strategies and approaches, and present a China policy that will “serve Taiwan’s interests in the future,” Su said.
Explaining the committee structure in detail, DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀) said it would consist of seven to nine members and include an advisory board, with a meeting being held every two months.
The other members of the committee are expected to be finalized in one to three weeks, he said, adding that Hsieh and former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) had already been invited to join the committee.
Hsieh’s initiative of “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) meant he would not be an ideal candidate to convene the committee, because the former premier’s views on China policy are clear and would not help him as convener of the committee’s discussions, Lin said.
While the name of the committee has been a hot topic in the media, Lin said it was never an issue in the meeting as the party stuck with “China” rather than “cross-strait” or “mainland” as some had suggested.
Lin also played down the significance of the committee being headed by a convener rather than a chairman, saying that it was a “non-issue” in the meeting.
Before the meeting, representatives of various pro-independence groups, including the Taiwan Society, the Taiwan Hakka Society, the Northern Taiwan Society, the Taiwan Nation Alliance and the Taiwan Association of University Professors, met with Su and voiced their concerns.
Taiwan Society president Wu Shu-min (吳樹民) told reporters after the meeting that the groups argued that the establishment of a committee on China policy was not a priority for the DPP at present.
Instead, Wu said, the DPP should focus on domestic economic issues, and promote social justice and fairness, such as seeking a solution to the financial crises of various pension programs.
Former premier Yu Shyi-kun shared those views, saying that the DPP would be able to promote closer engagement with China without setting up a committee.