I’d visit China for Taiwanese: Frank Hsieh

Staff writer, with CNA

Sun, Feb 09, 2014 - Page 3

If elected as head of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in May, former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) would not rule out visiting China in his capacity as party chairman, he told Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV station yesterday.

“If it would benefit Taiwanese and if there were a need to, I should go to the mainland [China], the United States and Japan,” he said.

“If Taiwanese needed it [the visit], but I were afraid of criticism or of damaging my reputation, that would be selfish,” he said.

Hsieh, who served as premier under the DPP administration from February 2005 to January 2006, visited China in October 2012, becoming the most senior member from the former administration to do so.

He made another trip to China last year, during which he met Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) Director Zhang Zhijun (張志軍).

Hsieh announced his bid to head the part late last month.

In the Phoenix TV interview, he said that he threw his hat in the ring because he thinks the party is in need of a breakthrough in its cross-strait policy.

“These days, everyone is avoiding the subject, but the chairmanship election will require debate and talking about substantive policies,” he said.

Although traditionally wary of close ties with Beijing, the party has set up a China Affairs Committee and convened several meetings to discuss its China policy, but has failed so far to formulate a clear-cut discourse on cross-strait policy, Hsieh said.

The DPP’s next chairman will need to tackle cross-strait policy issues immediately, Hsieh said, adding that there is not much time left before Taiwan’s next presidential election in early 2016.

“I’ve devoted the most effort [to cross-strait policy] over the past several years and paid the biggest price for it. I believe that I should speak on it and serve as party chairman,” he said.

The DPP ended a six-month marathon debate on its China policy last month that resulted in few substantive changes, although it promoted the ideals of creating a “friendly environment” for Chinese students, tourists and spouses in Taiwan.

The party reaffirmed the core values of its 1999 Resolution on Taiwan’s Future, which states that Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country and that any change in its status will need the approval of its residents through a referendum.

Hsieh and others have said that even though the policy debate had concluded, the public has not been given a better understanding of the policy’s substance.

He said the DPP’s official debate summary only mentioned the country’s constitution once giving the impression that the party was trying to avoid the issue.