Cross-strait exchanges should be based on mutual respect and held on an equal footing, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said yesterday, a day after the party pulled out of a forum in China because of what it perceived as a demeaning remark by a Chinese commentator.
Chiang attributed the party’s last-minute decision not to attend the 12th Straits Forum opening in Xiamen on Saturday to the complexity of the cross-strait situation.
“The current situation makes it unfavorable for the KMT to attend the forum as a party and we do not want to force ourselves to attend the forum under these circumstances, so similar exchanges can remain possible,” he said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
Chiang was referring to a comment that Li Hong (李紅), host of a talk show on China Central Television (CCTV), made on Thursday last week, two days after the KMT announced that former legislative speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) would lead the party’s delegation to the forum.
Li’s show focused on cross-strait affairs and discussed the KMT delegation, at which point CCTV summarized Li’s comments on the screen: “With the Strait on the brink of war, this man is coming to the mainland to sue for peace.”
The summary, which implied that Wang and the KMT were heading to China to show their subservience to Beijing, stirred up controversy and anger in Taiwan.
The KMT asked Li to apologize, but had not received a response before announcing on Monday afternoon that the delegation would no longer be attending the forum.
However, the KMT has not prohibited party members from participating as private citizens.
Chiang said that the decision highlighted the need to conduct cross-strait exchanges based on “mutual trust and goodwill and on an equal footing,” principles always upheld by the KMT.
He called on both sides of the Strait to continue to uphold these principles for the benefit of long-term exchanges and to maintain peace.
The forum is just one of the KMT’s communication channels with China, Chiang said, referring to a warning from former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) that a lack of cross-strait platforms means a lack of dialogue, which is dangerous for both sides.
In related news, Chiang said he had no problem with Lin Rong-te (林榮德), a former interim KMT chairman, attending the Straits Forum as a private citizen.
It would be normal for Lin, a China-based Taiwanese businessman, to want to attend the forum to promote the welfare of Taiwanese businesspeople in China, Chiang said.
However, Lin yesterday sent a text message to local media that he no longer planned to attend.
Initiated by Beijing and first held in 2009, the Straits Forum is a platform for cultural cooperation and economic exchange between Taiwan and China, and is cosponsored by organizations on both sides of the Strait.
The KMT has viewed the forum as a symbol of peace between Taiwan and China, and has sent delegations each year.
However, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) administration has urged Taiwanese and local political groups not to attend the annual event, because doing so could be a breach of national security laws.
The DPP has said that the forum has been used by Beijing to drum up support among Taiwanese for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s (習近平) plan to annex Taiwan.
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