Mon, Jul 27, 2009 - Page 3 News List

FEATURE: Expatriate groups split over cross-strait bandwagon

DIVISIONS REMAIN Groups supportive of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) have begun exchanges with their Chinese counterparts but others said they aren’t interested


Taiwanese expatriates are split over the government’s call to increase exchanges with overseas Chinese groups that are loyal to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), with some eager to hold joint cultural events and others remaining opposed to such interaction.

The divergence in views has come in response to the recent push by the government to seek a better atmosphere and more cooperation between Taiwanese and Chinese expatriate groups.

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) recently proposed a “truce” between Taiwan and China expatriate affairs. Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission (OCAC) Deputy Minister Jen Hong (任弘) said on Friday that pro-Taiwan groups and pro-China groups should increase exchanges by holding joint celebrations of traditional holidays such as Mid-Autumn Festival and Lunar New Year.

The anti-PRC groups are composed of Taiwan-centric groups, pro-independence Taiwanese expatriates and old Republic of China (ROC) loyalists who settled in the US before the PRC was created.

In response to the government’s calls, groups supporting the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said they have increased exchanges with their PRC counterparts, but those supporting the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) have objected to such moves.

Lin Yuan (林遠), an OCAC committee member and member of the KMT USA group, said several pro-KMT overseas leaders established a “Cross-Taiwan Strait Peaceful Development Forum” with their Chinese counterparts two weeks ago.

The forum held its first session on “Effects of American Education on Both Sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Lin said, and will hold a second session next month on “Cross-Taiwan Strait Diplomatic Truce and Truce in Overseas Affairs.”

They are also planning to jointly organize a Mid- Autumn Festival celebration in Washington at the end of next month or early September that will feature artists from both sides of the Taiwan Strait, he said.

The Washington-based Organization of Chinese Americans and representatives of New Party member Stan Tsai (蔡德樑) said that school presidents who support the ROC are planning to invite the Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes to jointly organize a Confucius memorial ceremony at the end of September.

Asked whether groups associated with the ROC and Taiwan and those that support the PRC could jointly celebrate either the Double Ten National Day or China’s Oct. 1 National Day, both Lin and Tsai said that such a situation would not happen because of the political nature of the events.

Pro-DPP overseas Taiwanese groups, on the other hand, have no interest in exchanges with their Chinese counterparts, said Ben Chang (張貴洋), former president of the Taiwanese Association of America’s Greater Washington Chapter.

“I don’t believe that any pro-DPP overseas group would attend events hosted by Chinese groups,” he said.

Hsu Chin-chung (??, an adviser to the DPP’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission in Baltimore, said his agency would not host any events with its Chinese counterpart.

Kung Chung-chen (龔中誠), head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles, said on Friday that only through “mutual respect” can the two sides promote exchanges and hold joint events.

“A Taiwan-China truce on the front of expatriate affairs can be achieved through respect. The precondition of mutual respect is to express goodwill and not deny the existence of each other,” he said.

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