A visit to Beijing by the chairman of Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) seems to have increased public support in Taiwan for improved relations with China, but may have also damaged the cooperation among political parties needed for an actual shift in policy.
Separate polls published by three newspapers on Saturday showed that 51 to 60 percent of the population supported the trip by KMT Chairman Lien Chan (
Interest in the trip has been so intense that television stations have even broadcast earnest discussions of the earrings and clothing that Lien's wife, Fang Yu (
Polls before the visit had suggested that only 40 percent or so of the country's residents saw the trip as a good idea, indicating that the sight of KMT and Communist leaders shaking hands a half century after China's civil war might have won over some detractors.
Joseph Wu (
Wu, who has been a strong critic of the Nationalists' efforts to conduct their own diplomacy while in the opposition, predicted that the trip would have little long-term effect on attitudes toward China, a subject on which most people here already have strong opinions that seldom change. Yet heavy news media coverage may have produced at least some short-term public interest in working more closely with China, he acknowledged.
Wu said that before making any policy decisions, the government would wait until after a weeklong visit to China starting Thursday by People First Party Chairman James Soong (
Hu's remarks during Lien's visit were little more than oratory that repeated or rephrased previous statements by Beijing officials, and the government here wants to see if Communist leaders make more concrete proposals during Soong's visit, Wu said. "So far, what we see is only rhetoric."
But Wu said twice in an interview that it was possible the government might formulate an initiative of its own after Soong's return.
Lien's effusive praise for Chinese leaders while in Beijing, and his strong criticism of Taiwanese independence supporters, have infuriated the governing Democratic Progressive Party, which leans toward more independence from China.
During a speech in Beijing, Lien accused independence advocates of having misused the introduction of democracy in Taiwan, notably by emphasizing differences over policy toward China, and between those born on Taiwan and those who moved from China.
"Some people are very upset that he's criticizing Taiwanese democracy in China; it's like slapping your children in front of other people," said Hsiao Bi-khim (
Chen has pursued a somewhat more conciliatory policy toward China since his party failed to capture an expected majority in legislative elections last December.
But hard-line advocates of greater independence within the Democratic Progressive Party are so furious now that this policy may be difficult to maintain, Hsiao said.
"It makes it even harder for President Chen to stick to the middle road, as he has been for the last few months," she said.
Andrew Yang (
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