Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) yesterday played down the significance of Hsieh’s comments at a Hong Kong forum on Sunday that had triggered heated debate and criticism within the DPP.
If the new cross-strait service trade pact was as good as advertised, Taiwanese “should have celebrated with firecrackers,” Hsieh told the forum on cross-strait affairs. However, several media outlets reported that Hsieh said Taiwanese “should celebrate with firecrackers,” prompting the criticism.
The strongest criticism came from former Examination Yuan president Yao Chia-wen (姚嘉文), who said Hsieh might as well quit the party if he held different views on China policy.
Speaking upon his return at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport yesterday, Hsieh said that he did not take the criticism against him seriously because closer engagement with Beijing would prevent the DPP from being marginalized in cross-strait interactions.
He praised the two-day forum, which gathered academics and politicians from Taiwan and China, as a success that “has created more options for Taiwan and the DPP.”
The forum had achieved three breakthroughs, including China-based Taiwanese businesspeople’s confidence about the DPP, the DPP’s confidence in engagement with Beijing and bringing issues of the Republic of China (ROC) and the ROC Constitution — both taboos in past bilateral interaction — to the table as well as relaying mainstream Taiwanese public opinion to Beijing, he said.
Su tried to play down reports of party bickering, saying that he recognized Hsieh’s effort in engaging Beijing with confidence and urging DPP members should stop criticizing the firecrackers remark since Hsieh had cleared up the misunderstanding.
“While Hsieh’s position on cross-strait affairs is different from other members’, as chairman I do my best to ensure everyone’s opinion is respected and discussed,” Su said.
Beijing needs to understand that it has to approach bilateral engagement without setting preconditions, Su said, referring to Beijing’s “one China” framework.
The forum was organized by Hsieh’s Taiwan Reform Foundation and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ Institute of Taiwan Studies.