Pro-independence advocates yesterday expressed strong support for Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai’s (賴清德) remarks about Taiwanese independence during his recent visit to Shanghai as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) rejected Beijing’s claim that Taiwan’s future should be decided by “all Chinese people, including Taiwanese.”
The DPP’s independence charter and Resolution on Taiwan’s Future were part of the trajectory of Taiwan’s history and removing the charter would not eliminate the aspiration of Taiwanese for independence, Lai told an audience in Shanghai on Friday last week.
He said that there is a clear consensus on Taiwanese independence in the nation.
Lai also mentioned the Sunflower movement and the Tiananmen Square Massacre in his remarks, both of which are sensitive topics in China and usually censored in the media and online.
Representatives of pro-independence groups praised Lai at a joint press conference in Taipei, with Taiwan Society president Chang Yen-hsien (張炎憲) saying that Lai’s confidence and courage to speak the truth were “the best example of what bilateral engagement should be.”
Lu Chung-chin (呂忠津), president of the Taiwan Association of University Professors, said Lai’s “candid and cordial” comments were a great example for Taiwanese politicians, adding that China should not overlook the implication behind Lai’s remarks.
“[Lai] told Beijing that it has not been listening to voices from all sides and has committed a fatal mistake by only dealing with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT). In other words, the KMT is the biggest roadblock in the normalization of cross-strait relations,” Lu said.
At a separate event yesterday, senior independence advocate Koo Kuan-ming (辜寬敏), who has endorsed the idea of Lai entering the 2016 presidential race, said Lai “expresssed the feelings of the Taiwanese,” something that no Taiwanese politician has done in China before.
“[His comments] did not surprise me at all. It would have been a surprise to me if he did not say them,” Koo said.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, asked by reporters about Lai saying that Taiwan’s future should be decided by its 23 million people, Fan Liqing (范麗青), spokesperson for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, told a press conference yesterday that “anything related to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity must be decided by all Chinese people, including our Taiwan compatriots.”
Beijing’s policy toward the DPP has been clear and consistent and its opposition to Taiwanese independence is “firm and unwavering,” Fan said.
Beijing welcomes visits by all Taiwanese politicians regardless of their position as long as they support peaceful bilateral development, Fan said.
The DPP was quick to condemn Fan’s remarks, and it urged President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to clearly state his position on Beijing’s stance.
“We were aware of the [TAO] comment. I would like to reiterate the DPP’s position — that Taiwan’s future should be decided by its 23 million people — has been clear and consistent,” DPP Secretary-General Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) said after the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting.
Ma promised during his 2008 presidential campaign that Taiwan’s future should be and would be decided by its 23 million people, and he should restate his position now that he is president, Wu added.
Late last night, Presidential Office spokesperson Ma Wei-kuo (馬瑋國) said that President Ya Ying-jeou (馬英九) had never wavered on his stance that the future of Taiwan is a decision that its 23 million people should make in accordance to the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution.