Taiwan’s pro-Beijing opposition party is sending its deputy leader to China, where Taipei has warned of the potential for internal division as the country faces unprecedented intimidation from the People’s Liberation Army.
Andrew Hsia, a veteran diplomat who served as the country’s top China policy official in the previous Kuomintang government, argued that the visit was in support of Taiwanese citizens living in mainland China.
“We have no plans to meet with Chinese officials, and of course it is possible that they will meet with Taiwanese companies, or we may meet them in the context of our meetings with Taiwanese companies,” he told the Financial Times before leaving. Headed to Xiamen in southeastern China’s Fujian province on Wednesday morning.
Although Kuomintang Said the visit had been planned for several weeks and had nothing to do with the Taiwan Strait crisis, which could be highly controversial in Taiwan.
PLA continues Exercise on an unparalleled scale U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi took a tour around the island after visiting Taipei last week. On Wednesday, China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian, said there was no timetable for when Beijing would stop military activities.
TaiwanIts cabinet-level China policy agency told local media it had strongly opposed Xia’s visit. “This move will cause domestic controversy and anxiety, high public misgivings, and affect our internal unity. It will also confuse and mislead the international community about the threats facing Taiwan,” the quote said.
The Kuomintang has struggled for years to shake off accusations from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and voter suspicions of its ties to the Chinese Communist Party.According to a recent poll, its Voter support drops fell to an all-time low of 17%.
Opposition parties have joined the government in condemning China’s military drills, but Xia on the trip sidestepped the question of whether he would protest the drills. “Our position is the same and I will reiterate that when asked,” he said.
Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Nanjing University, said: “The mainland military exercise is not over yet. It is a very important gesture for the vice chairman of the Kuomintang to come to the mainland. The two sides need to strengthen communication, especially under the current situation.”
Beijing claims Taiwan as its territory and has threatened to occupy it by force if the island resists unification indefinitely. The Chinese Communist Party is trying to use the KMT to undermine the authority of the Taiwanese government.
Before Xia’s arrival, Beijing issued a white paper on Taiwan policy, reiterating its position that “Taiwan is part of China, and there is no room for doubt and change.”
A Chinese government spokesman said the white paper would help “enhance confidence and courage to oppose ‘independence’ and promote reunification inside and outside the island”.
In 2005, after Taiwan independence President Chen Shui-bian was re-elected, cross-strait relations fell into a low ebb. Lien Chan, then chairman of the Kuomintang, met with Hu Jintao, the general secretary of the Communist Party of China. This was the first meeting between leaders of the Kuomintang and the Communist Party since 1945.
Subsequently, the two parties established regular dialogues, which were fiercely criticized by the DPP as an attempt to undermine Taiwan’s sovereignty. The last time the KMT vice-chairman visited the mainland was in 2019.
The Kuomintang accepts the premise that Taiwan is part of one China, but adds that both sides reserve their own interpretations of that China.
Xia declined to criticize his delegation as a possible tool for China’s divisive tactics. “It’s not that we haven’t been the target of united front tactics before and don’t know how to prevent it,” he said, referring to a political strategy arm of the Chinese Communist Party.
“But at the end of the day, communication is better than no communication. We want to do something for our Chinese citizens when the government can’t,” he added.
Xia said his delegation will work to address the coronavirus pandemic restrictions and cross-strait trade issues that Taiwanese face in mainland China.
Additional reporting by Nic Fildes in Sydney