Tsai Ing-Wen

Party may soften cross-strait policy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2012, 12:00am


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Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party may see changes to its conservative cross-strait policy following the elections of its central executive and central standing committees.

The rise of liberal factions in the party's key decision-making bodies could see the policy relaxed with the aim of winning greater public support and increasing the party's chances in the 2016 presidential elections, analysts said.

'The party may put more emphasis on cross-strait dialogue exchanges rather than stick to its hard-line pro-independence stand,' said Hsu Yung-ming, an associate professor of political science at Soochow University in Taipei.

The hardline pro-independence faction, represented by former president Chen Shui-bian, now in jail for corruption, and former DPP legislator Chai Trong-rong, secured only a small presence on the 30-seat Central Executive Committee after Sunday's voting.

The newly elected members came from the factions of former premier and incumbent DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang, former premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, ex-premier Yu Shyi-kun and Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu. Three seats are now held by members of the New Tide faction.

Each committee member casts a vote either for himself or another member for the standing committee. New Tide won three of the 10 standing committee seats, with the remaineder split among other factions, including those led by Hsieh and Yu.

The chairman, and six other power brokers, including the DPP legislative caucus head, the Koahsiung and Tainan mayors are ex-official members of the committee

Analysts said the rise of the more liberal factions could see the DPP moderate its tough pro-independence stance. Su has offered to visit the mainland and meet President Hu Jintao , while Hsieh is known to back a more liberal cross-strait policy that includes his 'constitutional one-China,' which holds that according to the national charter there is a single China.

The DPP has denied the '1992 consensus', under which both sides agree there is only one China but that each has its own interpretation of what one China is. The agreement forms the core of the ruling Kuomintang's cross-strait policy.

Tsai Ing-wen, then DPP chairwoman, failed to unseat Ma Ying-jeou in presidential elections held in January, largely due to her inability to convince voters she could maintain the warming cross-strait atmosphere despite her party's denial of the consensus. Ma secured a second term with over 51 per cent of the vote.

Hsu cautioned that although the DPP was likely to adopt a softer tone in its cross-strait policy, it remained to be seen whether the shift would translate from talk to action.

Wang Kung-yi, a professor of international relations at Tamkang University, said the DPP needed to adopt a more moderate cross-strait policy to win over swing voters.

The DPP did not address the policy during Sunday's national congress, although it did review the party's primary election system.

DPP spokesman Lin Yung-chang yesterday said the DPP would discuss the matter in due course.