DPP seeks to alter course in its ties with Beijing

Opposition forms 'China affairs committee' to co-ordinate policy towards Beijing

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 4:50am

Taiwan's main opposition Democratic Progressive Party formed a committee yesterday to chart a new direction for its ties with the mainland, a week after the leadership transition in Beijing.

But the new committee, headed by DPP chairman Su Tseng-chang, has been named the "China affairs committee" rather than the "cross-strait affairs committee".

Taiwanese pundits said it remained to be seen whether Beijing would be willing to step-up contacts with the DPP, given that the committee's name was bound to upset Beijing.

The pro-independence party held a central standing committee meeting yesterday to decide whether to form the committee.

Some party heavyweights at first questioned the need for such a committee, given that the DPP already had a "China affairs department to handle cross-strait issues. But after a long and heated debate, more than half of the party's standing committee members supported Su's proposal for a committee to co-ordinate all opinions within the party and work out cross-strait policy directions.

"In the face of the new situation in China, we cannot cope with all those changes with simply 'no change' and we must gather all wisdom to work out more innovative strategies to deal with this," Su told a press conference after the standing committee meeting.

Su said he originally wanted to ask Frank Hsieh Chang-ting, who early last month became the first DPP leader to visit the mainland, to head the committee. "But after repeated consideration, I think I should take up this responsibility and serve as the convener," he said.

He said Hsieh had given him his support.

Both Su and Hsieh, seen as rivals within the DPP, served as premier during DPP administration between 2000 and 2008. They reportedly both want to steer its cross-strait affairs policy.

Hsieh, also a former DPP chairman, met senior mainland officials last month who reportedly found his so-called "constitutional one-China proposal" agreeable. That proposal is based on the idea that Taiwan is officially known as the Republic of China, and in the Republic of China constitution, China exists as the Republic of China and therefore there is only one China.

Since Beijing has said it is willing to talk with any parties or individuals from Taiwan as long as they support the "one China" principle, Taiwanese pundits said that a committee led by Hsieh could help improve ties with Beijing, previously irked by the DPP's pro-independence platform. Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway province.