Former Taiwanese premier Frank Hsieh urges DPP role in cross-strait talks

Frank Hsieh Chang-ting uses speech in Hong Kong to argue that excluded opposition party deserves role in cross-straits discussions

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 5:25am

Former Taiwanese premier Frank Hsieh Chang-ting said yesterday that dialogue with Beijing would be more productive if other parties were brought into talks.

Hsieh, the former chairman of the Democratic Progressive Party, was speaking in Hong Kong at a forum organised by his Taiwan Reform Foundation and the mainland's Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The former premier used the occasion to advocate a greater role in cross-straits talks for Taiwan's opposition party, which has been excluded because of its support for declaring independence from the mainland.

So far, cross-strait exchanges have been limited to the Chinese Communist Party and the ruling Kuomintang, which have grown closer in recent years despite being on opposite sides in the Chinese civil war.

"The political exchanges across the straits have gradually become exchanges between the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communist Party," Hsieh said in his keynote address.

"This kind of mindset implies that the cross-strait issue is not relevant to other political parties," he said. "And that means it is not relevant to many Taiwanese people."

The symposium was a rare occasion for high-profile engagement between scholars from the DPP and the mainland, though mainland officials present stressed it should not be seen as a formal exchange.

Sun Yafu , deputy director of the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office reiterated Beijing would not consider party-to-party talks with the DPP unless it abandoned its support for Taiwanese independence.

Sun said the DPP's pro-independence agenda was "violating people's wishes and interests, history and the trend of cross-straits relations".

He called on all parties to adhere to the "one China" policy, in which they agree there is only one China, even if they disagree about what that means.

Sun's remarks followed those of Hsieh, in which he noted that Taiwanese public support for unification had reached its lowest ebb in years.

Yu Keli , director of the Beijing-based Taiwan Research Institute, denied the Communist Party and KMT had "monopolised" cross-straits talks. "We look forward to discussing peaceful development, cross-straits relations, and future reunification with different parties and sectors in Taiwan," Yu said.

"However, there is a principle," he said. "If they insist on the independence for Taiwan and separatist opinions, no matter what parties or groups, it is hard for us to have exchanges or interactions with them as it violates the country's interest."

Hsieh still wields political power in Taiwan and has large numbers of supporters amongst DPP legislators, nine of whom are attending the conference, which ends today.

Sun said the forum would "help narrow the differences and seek consensus and it will have a positive impact on cross-strait relations".

Hsieh sidestepped questions from journalists on the sidelines of the forum seeking his response to Sun's remarks about the DPP's pro-independence position.