Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) said in China yesterday that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait need to address their differences before economic relations can advance to a higher level.
Merely “agreeing to disagree” is insufficient to cope with the current challenges which surround cross-strait economic exchanges, Hsieh said.
“The two sides should tolerate, face, deal with and overcome their differences,” he said during a visit to Xiamen University, where he held talks with Taiwan Research Institute head Liu Guoshen (劉國深) and his predecessor Chen Kongli (陳孔立).
There is also a need for Taiwan and China to enhance the quality of their educational and cultural exchanges, he added.
Expressing a similar view, Chen said the two sides should strengthen their exchanges to promote mutual understanding, trust and consensus.
Chen said cross-strait educational and cultural exchanges can still grow, suggesting that Taiwanese universities further open their doors to Chinese students given Taiwan’s strong higher education facilities.
Hsieh arrived in Xiamen a day earlier on the first leg of a private, five-day China visit that is also set to take him to Beijing. He became the most senior member of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to set foot in the mainland.
Soon after his arrival, Hsieh went to nearby Dongshan Island (東山島)to pay tribute to his ancestors.
He also left an inscription inside the Hsieh ancestral shrine and presented Taiwanese tea and a book he wrote about Taiwan to clan members.
Despite political differences across the Strait, Hsieh said a person must not deny his own roots because of politics.
He expressed the hope that China could one day develop a democracy with socialist characteristics and offered to share Taiwan’s experience in this regard.
While on Dongshan Island, Hsieh visited Tongbo Village — also known as “widow village” — where many women lost their husbands after they were forcibly taken to Taiwan by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) military in 1950.
Hsieh said the village is a vestige of the civil war that raged between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party. Although the two parties have reconciled with each other, there is no way to make up for families broken apart by the conflict, he said.
Noting that the DPP has never had a conflict with the Chinese communists, Hsieh said he hopes his current China visit will help to facilitate communications across the strait while also helping to establish mutual trust.