Former representative to the US Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said he embraces new challenges as the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) policy boss and expects no major changes in the party’s relations with the US and China in the short term.
“It would take time and a fundamental change in the general political climate for the DPP to improve its sour relationship with the US,” Wu, who was last month named chief executive officer of the party’s policy research committee by DPP Chairperson Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), told the Taipei Times in an interview.
The party’s relations with Washington began to turn sour in the latter part of former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) presidential campaign and worsened during the recent dispute over the ban on US beef imports.
“Political insiders across the Pacific understood very well ‘who did what’ and that the DPP has been the victim of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy mess-ups,” said Wu, who is a professor at National Chengchi University and is scheduled to start in his designated position on Aug. 1.
However, the 57-year-old was concerned about the Ma administration’s political maneuvers, which he said has “dragged Washington into [Taiwanese] domestic politics, in particular on the US beef issue, and made the DPP a shared enemy of the US and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT)” because of the DPP’s objection to relaxing the ban on US beef with ractopamine residues.
Su’s appointment of Wu, who during the DPP administration had served as the nation’s top diplomat in Washington as well as minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, the top China policy-making body, has received wide praise from DPP supporters because of Wu’s rich experience in handling Taiwan’s most important external relations.
In terms of the DPP’s China policy, which many DPP members said had to change after the party’s defeat in the Jan. 14 presidential election, Wu laid out the party’s future direction.
The DPP needs to present a different “posture” against Beijing by encouraging more exchanges and contacts, and by promoting mutual understanding, he said.
However, the party’s basic position on China, which has been stated very clearly in its party resolution on Taiwan’s future in 1999, would not change, he said.
“All we have to keep in mind is that Beijing would not back the DPP as it had the KMT in elections, even if we came up with the same China policy as the KMT,” Wu said.
Assuming the leadership of the policy research committee, which is basically the DPP’s “brain,” Wu said there are many tough tasks ahead, but one of the issues he wants to pay specific attention to is the human rights situation in China.
“That’s one thing I’d really love to do ... holding conferences, collecting information of Beijing’s violations of human rights and working with Chinese dissidents,” he said.
Wu added that the human rights issue would be something “everyone could resonate with.”
As for his observations on current national affairs, Wu said that Ma could destroy himself as well as Taiwan with his serial policy mistakes.
He said the DPP should try to be a political party which works seamlessly with civic groups and addresses various social issues with “clear positions.”
Wu added that the DPP would participate in various activities in the US by sending separate delegations consisting of DPP lawmakers to the US Republican National Convention in August and the Democratic National Convention in September.