DPP fails to appear at anti-mainland protests

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:16pm


Taiwan's main opposition party, known for its pro-independence stance, was absent yesterday from protests that greeted the mainland's top negotiator upon his arrival to the island.

The Democratic Progressive Party's lack of participation in the protest follows a decision by its new chairman, Su Tseng-chang, to reopen its mainland affairs office in Taipei last week, five years after the office was closed.

Chen Yunlin , chairman of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (Arats), is in Taiwan to sign a key investment pact with the island.

Other pro-independence activists have promised to follow Chen everywhere during his three days in Taipei, and dozens of protesters from the Taiwan Solidarity Union and other civic groups were seen yesterday at several locations along the route of Chen's itinerary, from Taoyuan International Airport to his hotel, to the Taipei Zoo, and then to the scenic Maokong Gondola. Tight security ensured that demonstrators did not get too close to Chen or other members of his delegation, but the activists did all they could to get his attention. They waved banners and shouted slogans including 'One Taiwan, one China', and 'Investments in China are a dead end'.

DPP spokesman Lin Chun-hsien, explaining Su's decision not to protest during Chen's visit, said that Su, seen as a more moderate politician, preferred to 'closely monitor the eighth round of talks in a rational and pragmatic manner'.

Late last month, Su announced that he would reinstate the DPP's China Affairs Department to help the pro-independence party better understand the mainland and to increase communication with Beijing.

The DPP's anti-mainland stance was seen as a major reason behind the party's defeat in the March presidential election, as voters doubted the party's ability to maintain cross-strait stability.

Chen will meet his Taiwanese counterpart, Chiang Pin-kung of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), today in their eighth round of talks, delayed since June over a failure to reach consensus on the terms of an investment-protection agreement and a customs co-operation pact. Both are expected to be signed.

At a news conference early yesterday, Chiang said it would be important to see how the investment agreement could be fully implemented.

However, Kao Wei-pang, chairman of Victims of Investment in China, said it would be even more important for the agreement to include protection for all Taiwanese on the mainland.

'Without inclusion of this [protection], the agreement would be nothing but a joke,' Kao said.

According to the agreement, mainland authorities will be required to notify the family members of any businessmen arrested on the mainland, within 24 hours, except when they are believed involved in security-related or terrorist activities.