Former premier Frank Hsieh (謝長廷) is set to embark on a symbolic yet controversial visit to China today for what has been described as an “ice breaking” trip to promote better relations between the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and China.
“Hopefully, footprints I make today will become a trail for future travelers,” Hsieh said yesterday, referring to his five-day visit to Xiamen and Beijing.
Hsieh, who served as premier and DPP chairman, would be the highest-ranking DPP official to visit China, a country which has always held a hostile view toward the political party.
Hsieh and his delegation are scheduled to visit Xiamen, Fujian Province, where he is expected to pay tribute to his ancestors on Dongshan Island and visit Xiamen University, as well as Taiwanese businesses, today and tomorrow.
He is then to go to Beijing for an international bartending event — the main purpose of his trip — where he is to visit Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed “the Bird’s Nest,” as well as attending a closed-door meeting with academics from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences before returning to Taiwan on Monday.
The former premier stressed that he would visit China in his private capacity as chairman of the Taiwan Reform Foundation and that there would be “no public political events” in his itinerary so “people should look at this as an ordinary trip.”
However, Hsieh was well aware of the symbolic and political meaning of the trip — which originated after he was invited by the the International Bartenders’ Association to attend a bartending competition — and what prompted him to describe the trip as “a new page of sharing and mutual trust.”
Hsieh did not disclose whether he would meet with any Chinese official during the visit.
Most DPP members, including DPP Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) and former chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), wished Hsieh luck on the trip, saying the visit could be a positive first step en route to a better DPP-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) relationship in the future, which has been widely seen as an important factor for the DPP to win people’s trust in its capability to deal with cross-strait relations after its defeat in the January presidential election.
DPP spokesperson Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said yesterday after the party’s weekly Central Standing Committee meeting that people should not place “political responsibilities” on Hsieh’s shoulder, given that it is a private visit.
However, pro-independence groups expressed concerns toward the visit yesterday as the visit could be interpreted as Taiwan’s collaboration with China for a coalition against Japan on the dispute over Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).
The visit will be a trip of high political implication and Hsieh, as well as lawmakers and elected officials in the delegation, should never jeopardize Taiwanese sovereignty in their exchanges with the Chinese, the Taiwan Friends Association said in a press release yesterday.
World United Formosans for Independence (WUFI) Chairman Chen Nan-tien (陳南天) expressed WUFI’s opposition to the trip in a press release on Tuesday night, saying that despite it officially not opposing the visit, the timing is not right for such a visit.
It took director Chong Keat Aun (張吉安) nearly a decade to complete Snow in Midsummer (五月雪), a deft chronicle of Malaysia’s May 13 incident told through one woman’s search for her brother and father. Although only his second feature, it led the field at yesterday’s Golden Horse Awards with nine nominations. Chong said it had been a struggle to get people to share their memories of the intercommunal violence following the 1969 national election, known among the country’s ethnic Chinese community as “513.” “My father, for example, would shut the conversation down if my mother or grandma even mentioned the topic,” Chong said
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday said that a surge in respiratory illnesses in China has been caused by at least seven types of pathogens, and small children, elderly people and immunocompromised people should temporarily avoid unnecessary visits to China. The recent outbreak of respiratory illnesses in China is mainly in the north and among children, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said on Monday. Data released by the Chinese National Health Commission on Sunday showed that among children aged one to four, the main pathogens were influenza viruses and rhinoviruses, while among children aged five to 14, the main pathogens
A new poll of Taiwanese voters found the top opposition candidate for president jumping past the ruling party’s hopeful into the lead position ahead of January’s election — the latest twist in a drama-filled race. Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) presidential candidate Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) had an approval rating of 31.9 percent versus 29.2 percent for the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) presidential candidate Vice President William Lai (賴清德), the poll released yesterday by the Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation showed. The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) presidential candidate, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜), ranked third with 23.6 percent, according to the survey conducted
A New Taipei City hotpot restaurant could be fined after a rat dropped from the ceiling and landed on a customer’s plate last week, the New Taipei City Department of Health said yesterday after conducting an inspection. A woman recently posted on the “I am a Banciao resident” (我是板橋人) social media group saying that she had been eating with a friend at Chien Tu Shabu Shabu Hotpot Restaurant’s Shuangshi B branch in Banciao District (板橋). “While still eating, a big rat suddenly dropped down from the ceiling, landing on a plate next to a hotpot,” she said. “Later on, a member of