KMT Vice President Hau Lung-bin begins first trip to Beijing as Taipei mayor

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 12:45pm
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 6:28pm

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin, tipped to run for president of Taiwan in two years, is due to meet senior leaders in Beijing today.

It is Hau's first official visit to Beijing, and analysts said it would help boost his profile if he does stand for the presidency.

Hau, who is also vice-chairman of the island's governing Kuomintang, will meet Yu Zhengsheng, a member of the elite Politburo Standing Committee, and Chen Deming, head of the mainland's Association of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, according to the United Daily News.

Hau arrived yesterday for a four-day visit to the mainland.

He previously met Yu in 2010 in Shanghai when the mainland official was Communist Party chief of the city. "Yu is an old friend of mine. I hope our meeting will help Taiwan foster closer ties with the mainland," Hau said.

He is also due to meet Zhang Zhijun, Beijing's top Taiwan affairs official, who is currently touring Taiwan, before he leaves for home on Sunday.

"The tour shows his mainland connections where he enjoys a clear edge over his [presidential] rival Eric Chu," said Wu Jau-shieh, a cross-strait relations expert from National Chengchi University in Taiwan.

After sweeping protests in Taiwan earlier this year over a cross-strait trade pact, the KMT would nominate a candidate who had the knowledge to foster ties with Beijing without angering the public, Wu said.

Another analyst based in Taipei, who asked not to be named, said the mainland was keen to forge more ties with the KMT beyond President Ma Ying-jeou.

"The Chinese Communist Party increasingly sees Ma as a lame duck and is looking for a new ally or client in Taiwan: many KMT figures seem to by vying for this position," he said.

Li Fei, the deputy director of Xiamen University's Taiwan Research Institute, said he thought it unlikely that Hau would seek the presidency.

The mayor was more likely to the seek nomination as vice- president or chief of the Executive Yuan, using his connections with mainland officials as a political bargaining chip within the party, said Li.

"I think Hau is just a supporting actor, given that both Wu Den-yih and Eric Chu [KMT challengers for the presidency] have proven to be more popular among the public," Li said.