Incoming Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) is set to officially take the party’s helm today and has already laid out several major changes to improve the party’s external relations and connections.
The DPP would re-establish a representative office in the US, as well as one in Japan, if possible, Su told reporters outside his office yesterday.
The former premier said on Monday that he plans to re-establish the DPP’s Department of China Affairs and establish a Chinese affairs committee that will include academics and experts, to engage Beijing with a flexible attitude and approach.
The moves would be an effort to improve the DPP’s relations with the US — which was accused by many DPP members of having offered support for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) re-election campaign — forge closer ties with Japan and, most importantly, promote exchanges with Beijing.
Responding to a reporter’s question on why the reactivated department would use the name “China” rather than “Mainland,” Su said “China” is a more neutral term.
“All the countries in the world call it China. China also calls itself China,” he said.
However, the new DPP head was not that upbeat when he spoke of Ma, who called and congratulated Su on his victory on Sunday night and extended an invitation for a meeting.
Su said the Presidential Office has shown a “lack of courtesy” when it stated that Su had agreed to meet with Ma. Su said he did not decline the invitation in their telephone conversation “out of courtesy.”
However, it would take intensive preparatory negotiations on the agenda before any meeting takes place, according to Su’s spokesperson, Andrew Wang (王閔生).
Su is expected to announce his appointment of the party’s secretary-general today, after taking over the chairmanship from outgoing interim chairperson Chen Chu (陳菊) in an official handover ceremony in Taipei.
Media reported that Su’s close aide Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀), who served as deputy Taipei County commissioner under Su, former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) and former Changhua County commissioner Wong Chin-chu (翁金珠) are possible candidates for the position, but Su’s office declined to comment.
The appointments of the party’s deputy secretaries-general and various department directors are expected to be announced later this week.
Former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) and Taiwan Solidarity Union Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) are among the political heavyweights who have been invited to attend the ceremony.
In other developments, former DPP chairperson Hsu Hsin-liang (許信良) ended his week-long hunger strike in front of the Legislative Yuan on Monday night.
Warned by doctors about dehydration and malnutrition, Hsu announced the end of the hunger strike before being sent to hospital for a medical checkup.
Hsu staged his personal protest against Ma with three demands — freezing fuel and electricity prices, retaining a ban on beef imports containing residues of the feed additive ractopamine and giving a presidential pardon to former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison sentence for corruption.