POLITICS

Taiwanese opposition figures can visit mainland, but not in official capacity

Beijing says key Taiwanese opposition figures can visit - but not in any official capacity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 August, 2012, 3:32am

Members of Taiwan's main opposition group can visit the mainland, but not in an official capacity, and only in "appropriate circumstances", the head of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the mainland's State Council said yesterday.

This is seen as more a clarification of policy rather than a shift, following high-ranking visits to the mainland by Democratic Progressive Party elite. There have been reports that former DPP chairwoman Dr Tsai Ing-wen and former Taiwanese premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting of the DPP are planning to visit the mainland.

Wang Yi , director of the office, was speaking after a seminar in Beijing on cross-strait issues. Wang said the mainland had never banned visits by top DPP members.

"But they can come only in private capacities, with the proper status and in appropriate circumstances," he said. By "proper status", he meant they could visit using a non-DPP title, such as the head of a think tank.

Asked if DPP members such as Tsai and Hsieh would have to declare support for "one China" before visiting, Wang said, "Up until now, have you ever heard of any DPP members who visited the mainland making such remarks before they came here?"

Wang said the DPP's proindependence platform made it difficult for Beijing to deal directly with the DPP. But he said the door to the mainland still remained open if DPP members visited in a private capacity, as long as they supported improvement of cross-strait relations.

Asked what he thought about a recent wave of mainland visits by DPP members, Wang said Beijing welcomed them, as such visits would help DPP members better understand the mainland, its progress and development, as well as Beijing's policy towards Taiwan.

Wang declined to comment on a recent statement by Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou reiterating the island's position of not joining forces with the mainland in dealing with Japan on territorial disputes in the East China Sea. But he stressed that a growing contingent from the private sector on both sides of the strait supported co-operation in the disputes.