Tsai plays down Hsieh trip’s impact

BRIDGING THE DIVIDE::The former head of the DPP said Frank Hsieh’s visit should not be misread and added it would help boost mutual cross-strait ‘understanding’

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with Staff writer

Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 3

Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday that people should not read too much into the visit to China by former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷), nor view it as having considerable political significance.

The focus should be on “mutual understanding through exchanges” and Taiwanese society should use a broad perspective to evaluate Hsieh’s visit while taking it in their stride, Tsai said when asked about Hsieh’s visit.

According to Tsai, given that Hsieh is one of the DPP’s founding members and thus the highest-ranking DPP member to have visited China to date, his journey would inevitably come under public scrutiny.

However, she added, the greatest outcome from Hsieh’s visit was for China to understand that “we can continue interaction with the country.”

The point of the visit is to achieve a mutual understanding with each other through interaction, she added.

The visit is an action in progress, with each meeting and interaction made in the hope that mutual understanding can be boosted, Tsai said, adding that there was no need to read too much into one visit.

When asked if Hsieh’s comment “traveling across the world is only for the courageous; the cowardly find it hard to even take the first step” was a subtle way to urge the party to re-evaulate its China policies, Tsai said that Hsieh most likely did not mean it in such a way.

It took courage for him to take that step forward, of that it is certain, Tsai said, adding that she hoped both the DPP and wider Taiwanese society would not attach too much political meaning to the trip.

Asked if she has any plans to visit China, Tsai said she “has no such plans at present.”

Separately yesterday, former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) said anyone can visit China, but the most important thing is to ask why.

“Anyone can go, whether its for business or for socializing, the path is open, but the purpose and the attitude of the trip is the most important issue,” Lee said, adding that while, in terms of Taiwan-China relations, China was not an enemy both sides are still separate entities.

“They are China, we are Taiwan, we’re different, and Taiwan is an independent and sovereign entity,” Lee said.

“We have opened ourselves up too much, so much so that we don’t have a Taiwan — we don’t have any manpower, industry, or technology left. This is inevitable because the person in power does not know how to stand firm in his position and protect his people and how to ‘safely’ invest in China,” he added.

When asked by the media if Hsieh would be subjected to China’s tactics of a “united front” (統戰) during his trip, Lee said that as long as Hsieh stands firm in his own political stance, he would not be influenced.

Additional reporting by Rachel Lin and CNA