Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) yesterday paid homage to Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙), the founding father of the Republic of China (ROC), in a visit to Sun’s mausoleum in the Chinese city of Nanjing and mentioned the ROC in his remarks despite Chinese officials and media playing down the comments.
Wang yesterday became the first ROC official to visit the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum in his official capacity, on the second day of his four-day visit to China.
On Tuesday, Wang and his Chinese counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), held the first meeting between Taiwanese and Chinese ministers since 1949, when the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) fled to Taiwan following its defeat by the Chinese Communist Party in the Chinese Civil War.
“It has been 103 years since Sun Yat-sen founded the ROC, the first democracy in Asia. We could in the past only pay tribute to the founding father in Taipei, but I am able to visit here today in my capacity as MAC minister,” Wang told reporters and the crowd in the Boai Plaza in front of the mausoleum.
Several Taiwanese pan-blue camp politicians had visited the mausoleum in the past in non-governmental capacities, including former Straits Exchange Foundation president Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), former KMT chairmen Lien Chan (連戰) and Wu Po-hsiung (吳伯雄), and People First Party Chairman James Soong (宋楚瑜).
Taiwan Affairs Office officials were not accompanying Wang when he made the remarks.
In an eulogy Wang recited in front of Sun’s grave earlier, he mentioned Sun’s Three Principles of the People, the five-power Constitution and the so-called “1992 consensus,” also noting that people on both sides of the strait belong to the “Zhonghua” (中華) culture and it was imperative to “face reality.”
Responding to media inquiries about Wang’s remarks, Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) only praised Sun as “a great pioneer of China’s democratic revolution” without elaborating on Wang’s comments, according to China’s state-owned China News Service.
Chinese media, including the state mouthpieces CCTV and the Xinhua news agency, omitted Wang’s remarks about the ROC and the call for “facing reality” in their coverage.
Later yesterday, Wang delivered a speech to Nanjing University students, calling for closer youth exchanges across the Taiwan Strait and “peaceful coexistence.”
Wang’s visit to China so far has drawn mixed responses from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU).
DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday that while Wang and Zhang’s addressing each other using their official titles was “a small step for progress,” Wang’s failure to address human rights and the ROC in front of Zhang was lamentable.
In a press release issued late on Tuesday night, the DPP’s Department of China Affairs director Honigmann Hong (洪財隆) described the meeting as a “quasi-political negotiation” without authorization from Taiwanese.
Hong added that the nominal meeting had failed to reach substantial consensus on the issues of press freedom, human rights, investment protection and joint crime-fighting, among others.
TSU Chairman Huang Kun-huei (黃昆輝) said in a press release that Wang’s remarks about the ROC were only “self-amusement” because there was no Chinese official present and the Chinese media would not report about it.