Former Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has agreed to join the party’s China Affairs Committee, while former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) has turned down the same offer as the DPP’s search for members of the controversial committee continued.
In a press release issued late on Thursday, Tsai accepted the invitation extended by DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌), who is to be the committee’s convener, to serve as one of the committee members.
“I’m willing to collaborate [with the committee] on everything that benefits the development of the party and consensus-forming in the DPP’s China policy,” Tsai said in the press release.
Meanwhile, Hsieh has turned down Su’s offer, said Lin Yao-wen (林耀文), director of Hsieh’s office.
Lin quoted Hsieh as saying that the former premier wanted to “leave room for others, given that the number of committee members was limited and the committee appeared to be nominal.”
The former premier, who went on a landmark visit to China last month which was received with mixed reviews, and was said to be interested in chairing the committee, appeared to be disappointed that he was not appointed convener when Su announced the official establishment of the committee on Wednesday.
Under Su’s plan, the committee would consist of seven to nine members and include an advisory board, with a meeting scheduled to be held every two months.
Hsieh was keen on being appointed frontman of the party in its exchange and engagement with Beijing, after becoming the most prominent DPP politician to visit China and submitting his initiative of “constitutions with different interpretations” (憲法各表) during the trip.
However, the committee, which was planned to be a decision-making platform on the DPP’s engagement with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), turned out to be not as aggressive and has upset many DPP members, including Hsieh.
According to DPP Secretary-General Lin Hsi-yao (林錫耀), the committee would now serve as an internal consensus-building platform with members of “accredited seniority.”
Su yesterday in Hualien said that he would continue his search for committee members and would provide further details when the roster is complete.
Other than Su and Tsai, possible candidates for the committee could include former premier Yu Shyi-kun (游錫堃), Greater Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), DPP caucus convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), former National Security Council secretary-general Chiou I-jen (邱義仁) and former DPP secretary-general Wu Nai-jen (吳乃仁).
Yu, who voiced his opposition against the establishment of the committee, had been invited by Su and “could accept the offer,” according to Yu’s office director Super Meng (孟義超).
The committee’s design and makeup received mixed reviews from DPP politicians, with DPP Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康) saying he recognized the committee’s “balance of power” between factions.
DPP Legislator Chen Chi-mai (陳其邁) said he had hoped the committee would include more young DPP members who could promote innovative ideas, instead of “a roster of senior politicians which looked almost identical to the Central Standing Committee.”
Hung Chih-kun (洪智坤), a member of the Central Executive Committee, argued that Chinese dissidents, China-based Taiwanese businesspeople and academics from various think tanks should be included in the committee, as opposed to more senior politicians, because the committee is established with the goal of improving understanding about China.