Nuclear safety, green energy and international security are expected to be high on the agenda as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) makes her first trip abroad since being nominated as the party’s presidential candidate.
Tsai left yesterday evening for a week-long trip to Germany and the UK, coming two weeks before she is expected to depart on another visit to the Philippines and another to the US in the next few months.
A tour of her alma mater, the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), is expected to be a highlight of the visit, and the DPP candidate will meet experts and participate in a conference there on climate change.
On Thursday morning, she will also visit the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, where she will deliver a speech on her views on security in the Asia-Pacific region as well as cross-strait developments, party officials said.
The visit to LSE, from where Tsai received a doctorate in law, was not publicized until late last week. Even as she departed yesterday, officials did not disclose the exact timing and arrangement of the tour because of concerns that it could be viewed with hostility by Beijing.
DPP spokesperson Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said the main purpose of the European trip was for Tsai to learn more about EU green energy policy, nuclear safety and the recent decision by Germany to phase out nuclear power by 2022.
Tsai has proposed a plan to phase out nuclear power in Taiwan by 2025 pending the development of other sources of renewable energy. The DPP says it will implement the plan if it gains governance next year.
“We hope that Germany’s experience can provide some important reference for when the DPP returns to government,” Tsai told reporters at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.
“Many people in Taiwan know that we cannot achieve 100 percent safety in nuclear power, but the challenges we face are greater as Germany is among the most enthusiastic in developing sustainable energy,” she said.
Tsai will also meet local Taiwanese associations, representatives from European think tanks and politicians, including UK and German parliamentarians, Chen said.
Her first planned stop is Berlin Central Station this afternoon.
She will visit the Reichstag building to sit down with a local think tank and German politicians the next day with an evening speech to the European Federation of Taiwanese Associations at 7pm.
DPP officials said that Tsai would arrive in the UK on Wednesday to meet Taiwanese expatriate groups. She is expected to pay a visit to British politicians on Thursday afternoon at 3pm, before flying back to Taiwan the next evening.
Both flights will transit through Hong Kong and Tsai will be accompanied by former Cabinet spokesperson and representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) and Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), the deputy head of DPP’s policy think tank.
Tsai is scheduled to return to Taiwan on Saturday.