Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) yesterday left for Shanghai to participate in a seminar on cross-strait relations, but emphasized that she was doing so in a private capacity.
Hsiao said she was invited to the seminar on the peaceful development of cross-strait -relations, organized by the Shanghai Institute for East Asia Studies, as a board member of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), a semi-governmental non-profit organization, in a press release issued yesterday afternoon.
“I will be going to the seminar as a TFD board member and I have notified the party headquarters about the visit,” she said.
Hsiao is scheduled to return to Taipei tomorrow, her assistant Chang Chih-hao (張志豪) said.
The annual seminar, which has entered its third year, takes place on alternate years in Taipei and Shanghai, and is held by the TFD and the Shanghai Institute for East Asia Studies, which was established in 1995.
The visit is notable because of Hsiao’s position as a DPP lawmaker amid a new political -atmosphere in the party after its loss in the January presidential election, a result many observers say was brought about by the DPP’s failure in engaging Beijing politically and economically.
In March, New Taipei City (新北市) office director Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政), the DPP spokesperson at the time, became the first DPP official to visit China after the election when he visited Yunnan Province for a symposium on cross-strait development organized by a think tank affiliated with the Chinese government’s Taiwan Affairs Office.
Lo said he attended the symposium in a private capacity as a Soochow University professor and did not represent the DPP on the trip.
Visits to China by DPP members will likely become common in the future, in particular after DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) vowed to “be flexible” in the party’s approach to engagement with Beijing and after former DPP chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told a recent interview that she does not rule out visiting China if the time is ripe.
However, the DPP has drawn a red line for its members’ participation in Chinese activities.
According to party spokesperson Wang Min-sheng (王閔生), the Straits Forum and the annual forum between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party remain off-limits for DPP members because of the political ramifications and implications of the two events.
To participate in other activities, DPP members must simply notify party headquarters before their departure, Wang said.