The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) must seek common ground with Beijing while shelving its differences to achieve closer bilateral engagement, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said yesterday.
“Taiwanese have become more suspicious of improving ties amid increasing bilateral exchanges because Beijing has been unable to hear ‘the voice of the other side.’ And that is why the DPP has decided that it must pursue engagement,” Lai said in Greater Tainan.
However, progress would not be made before both sides are able to shelve their differences, he added.
Lai, who returned to Taiwan on Saturday evening after a two-day visit to Shanghai — his first trip to China as mayor — did not elaborate on widely discussed remarks he made in China about Taiwanese independence.
In response to Fudan University professor Jiang Yihua (姜義華), who reportedly blamed the DPP’s independence charter for what the professor described as a stalled cross-strait relationship, Lai said in a meeting with Chinese academics that the party’s independence charter and Resolution on Taiwan’s Future were part of the trajectory of Taiwan’s history.
Lai said that while the DPP supported Taiwanese independence, the party also respects citizens’ right to self-determination, adding that the cause has a clear consensus in the nation, which was why former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) was elected.
Lai is scheduled to hold a press conference today in Greater Tainan about his trip to China — nominally to attend a painting exhibition.
Lai’s remarks have won praise among independence supporters and DPP politicians, who said they admired his courage in “telling the truth in the face of the Chinese.”
DPP Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday recognized Lai’s “cordiality and honesty” in his remarks, saying that they expressed the voice of the Taiwanese and would benefit mutual understanding.
Tsai said that the DPP has always welcomed Chinese officials’ visits to Taiwan for non-political purposes and has always advocated closer bilateral engagement.
DPP spokesperson Huang Di-ying (黃帝穎) said in a press release that Lai’s remarks reflected “the true opinions of Taiwanese,” as well as the trajectory of the party’s development over the years.
In related news, the DPP rejected a report published by the Chinese-language United Daily News that quoted DPP Department of China Affairs Director Chao Tien-lin (趙天麟) as saying that the party has established a liaison office under the department to be in charge of bilateral activities.
DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said in a press release that there was no such office being established.