Fri, Jan 10, 2014 - Page 1 News List

DPP’s review of its China policy lacks major change

WORK IN PROGRESS:More radical proposals like freezing the party’s independence clause did not make the cut, but DPP officials said the new policy would be friendlier

By Chris Wang  /  Staff reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang speaks at a press conference in Taipei yesterday.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday completed a provisional review of its China policy without making any dramatic recommendations, saying that the spirit of its 1999 resolution on Taiwan’s future remained unchanged, but that the party would be flexible in the way it engages with China.

A meeting of the party’s China Affairs Committee yesterday concluded that the resolution — which defines Taiwan as a sovereign country while acknowledging the Republic of China as the country’s formal title — has been accepted by the majority of the public and would remain the DPP’s core value and position.

However, DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) pledged that the party would be more flexible in its strategy toward Beijing amid increasing cross-strait exchanges, which is why it is committing to taking better care of Chinese tourists, spouses and students in Taiwan.

The party is also set to launch a program seeking direct contact between Beijing and the DPP’s think tank, mayors and commissioners.

Political observers expected the party to present a “new and improved” China policy after a series of extensive meetings on cross-strait strategy were held by the committee over the past six months. Although this did not turn out to be the case, Su said more discussions would be held in the future, with the aim of generating more ideas and recommendations.

One notable development to come from the meetings was the dismissal of the “constitutionalism consensus” — the provisional conclusion that previously served as the DPP’s foundation for cross-strait engagement — and its replacement with “actively seeking people’s consensus in Taiwan.”

The text was proposed by former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), committee spokesperson Cheng Wen-tsang (鄭文燦) said.

DPP caucus whip Ker Chien-ming’s (柯建銘) proposal to freeze the party’s so-called independence clause — which sparked controversy and heated debate among party members — was not included in the final report, nor was former premier Frank Hsieh’s (謝長廷) initiative of “two sides, two constitutions,” Cheng said.

DPP Policy Research Committee executive director Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) dismissed views that no substantial progress on forming party’s China policy had been made in the review or its recommendations.

Wu said that the general tone of the provisional report was one of adopting a friendlier attitude toward Beijing, as seen in the recommendation for both parties “to seek and establish a sustainable relationship” and the commitment to work with civil societies on either side to uphold human rights and democracy.

“Neither the Chinese Nationalist Party [KMT] nor the Chinese Communist Party [CCP] has made such an effort to keep up with global trends by adopting a new mentality,” Wu said.

Meanwhile, the DPP pledged that it would not terminate the bilateral agreements that Taipei has signed with Beijing if it returns to power, but said that ongoing negotiations and future agreements should be transparent and monitored by the public to safeguard the interests of Taiwanese.

In the report’s summary, the DPP said that President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) strategy of prioritizing cross-strait relations above those with other countries and focusing only on cross-strait trade ties — to the detriment of multilateral trade — were “grave mistakes.”

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