Taiwan’s top negotiator with China has said in an interview with a Hong Kong newspaper that he supports the idea of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) forging ties with Chinese authorities.
“Direct DPP engagement with mainland authorities will make it easier to form a consensus among our people on the future development of relations across the Taiwan Strait,” Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) Chairman -Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤) said.
The foundation is a quasi-official body authorized to handle cross-strait negotiations for Taiwan in the absence of official ties.
“As the most important platform for cross-strait dialogue, the SEF is more than willing to assist the DPP in engaging with China if the party wants our help,” -Chiang told Hong Kong’s Commercial Daily in an interview published yesterday.
Chiang was responding to hints by the pro-independence DPP in recent weeks that it might consider new strategies toward China in the wake of its defeat in the Jan. 14 presidential election.
Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who will become the DPP’s acting chairwoman on Thursday, said on Friday that the party would expand its outreach to China.
Saying that cross-strait policy has been one of the key areas of friction between Taiwan’s political parties, Chiang said he looked forward to seeing the DPP interact more with China to enhance mutual understanding.
Without direct contacts or bilateral dialogue with China, Chiang said, the DPP would have difficulty working out an appropriate policy toward China.
Chiang, who is also a vice chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) would devote even more energy to promoting cross-strait relations during his second four-year term, which officially begins on May 20.
“Cross-strait relations will see faster and stronger development now that President Ma has won re-election,” Chiang said, in part because Ma realizes that cross-strait rapprochement over the past four years contributed to his re-election.
“The president is also fully aware of the need to promote reform and market opening to sustain Taiwan’s growth,” Chiang said. “Therefore, I believe he will accelerate and strengthen enforcement of various cross-strait policies and programs.”
On further opening Taiwan to Chinese investment, Ma has asked all government agencies to seriously promote trade and market liberalization, the SEF chairman said, but the president’s stance on “economic issues taking precedence over political ones” in dealing with China would remain unchanged.
“Only when the time is ripe and a consensus is reached among Taiwanese will political issues be put on the agenda of cross-strait talks,” Chiang said.
On Taiwan-Hong Kong ties, -Chiang said relations between the two sides have been at their best in decades since Ma assumed office nearly four years ago.
“A far greater number of Hong Kong business groups have visited Taiwan over the past four years, indicating that improvements in cross-strait ties have also benefited Taiwan-Hong Kong exchanges,” he said.