Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) met China’s State Councilor Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) and Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) in Beijing yesterday in what appeared to be the climax of his landmark five-day visit to China.
Hsieh became the most senior member of the former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration to meet with high-ranking Chinese officials.
The 66-year-old met with Dai, who also serves as the director of the general office of foreign affairs leadership group of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee, yesterday afternoon.
Hsieh then met with Chen, who oversaw and participated in the signing of 18 cross-strait agreements over the past four years and had frequently been criticized by the DPP, at a dinner banquet, Hsieh told a press conference in Beijing last night.
Hsieh, who was regarded as a moderate on China policy, also attended an international bartending competition yesterday morning where he cheered on the Taiwanese team. The event was the main purpose of his trip, which began in Xiamen in China’s Fujian Province on Thursday.
Although Hsieh, who supported the “constitutional one China (憲法一中)” and “constitutional consensus (憲法共識)” formulas, reiterated that the only goal of his “apolitical” trip would be initiating the DPP’s active engagement with Beijing, all eyes were still focused on his meetings with CCP officials.
After meeting with prominent Chinese think tanks in Xiamen and Beijing, Hsieh met China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Wang Yi (王毅) on Saturday night for a two-hour closed door meeting.
Hsieh told reporters yesterday that he told Wang the DPP “did not think the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ existed” and said there alternative options existed that could replace the policy, such as "constitutions with different interpretations (憲法各表)" — Hsieh’s brainchild.
Hsieh said the two exchanged opinions on comments he had made earlier in Xiamen calling for both sides of the Taiwan Strait to “transcend their differences” because “shelving differences alone was not enough to conduct bilateral engagements.”
“Seeking common ground while shelving differences” (求同存異) has been the approach adopted by the CCP and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on cross-strait exchanges.
Wang then explained to Hsieh how the so-called “1992 consensus” was reached, Hsieh said, adding that while both sides fail to agree with each other at the moment, “with wisdom a solution would come up over time.”
Wang understood the DPP’s ideology very well, Hsieh said.
TAO spokesperson Yang Yi (楊毅) said the meeting “was healthy for both sides,” but played down its significance, adding that Wang received Hsieh out of hospitality.
Hsieh’s trip has been closely watched by DPP and KMT politicians, and international media despite his insistence that the visit was made in a private capacity in his role as chairman of the Taiwan Reform Foundation.
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who has a rocky relationship with Hsieh, said yesterday in Yilan County that the visit was “Hsieh’s private trip regardless of who he met and what he said” and that Hsieh’s comments did not represented the DPP’s position.
“No communication platform between the DPP and the CCP is being established,” he added.
DPP members remained split over Hsieh’s “constitutional one China” and “constitutional consensus” initiatives, and on his visit.
Most of the international media that reported on Hsieh’s trip recognized his visit as an attempt by the DPP to improve bilateral relations.
Hsieh is scheduled to return to return to Taipei today.