Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) pushed for a rebalancing of exchanges between Taiwan and China at a high-profile symposium on cross-strait relations in Hong Kong yesterday.
In his keynote speech, Hsieh said cross-strait interactions have become increasingly narrowed to exchanges between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), with potentially serious consequences.
“This could cause undercurrents and trigger backlashes that would lead to an imbalance between the functions of political parties and the conducting of cross-strait exchanges,” he said.
“Cross-strait interactions are not the same as KMT-CCP interactions,” he said at the start of the two-day forum hosted by the Taiwan Reform Foundation — which he chairs — and the Chinese Academy of Social Science’s Taiwan Research Institute.
Hsieh said there are two major stances in Taiwanese mainstream public opinion regarding ties with China: one is the hope for cross-strait peace and commercial exchanges that create mutual prosperity; the other is the desire to maintain self-rule and preserve democratic values.
Whichever party holds power in Taiwan must maintain a balance between those two stances, something he hinted was not happening at present, Hsieh said.
“People in Taiwan today are worried about the model of the KMT and CCP monopolizing exchanges. They are concerned that the ‘status quo’ is being undermined and that democratic mechanisms are being distorted,” said Hsieh, who stressed that he was not representing the DPP at the forum.
Taiwan Research Institute director Yu Keli (余克禮) challenged Hsieh’s contention, saying that China welcomed Taiwanese from all circles to participate in cross-strait exchanges and that it was the DPP which had barred its members from engaging with Beijing in the past.
Yu also questioned the notion that the KMT and CCP were holding negotiations. Yu said that on June 7, 1991, the Chinese government authorized officials in charge of Taiwan affairs to begin talks with the Taiwanese government, and defined them as “cross-strait negotiations,” not “inter-party negotiations.”
On Jan. 31, 1995, then-Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民) proposed that the two sides hold talks on ending cross-strait hostilities under the “one China” principle. Since then, “KMT-CCP negotiations” have been relegated to the dustbin of history, Yu said.
Now, “we expect to have joint discussions with all sectors in Taiwan on the peaceful development of cross-strait relations,” he said.
Yu did not mention the series of high-level meetings held between leaders of the KMT and the CCP since 2005, the most recent of which involved former KMT chairman Wu Poh-hsiung (吳伯雄) and CCP General-Secretary and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) on June 13.
Wu’s use of the “one China” framework to describe cross-strait ties then has met strong criticism.